Dog ears are incredibly unique, unfortunately, this also leads to them having ear infections more frequently. Here, our vets in Westport talk about the causes of ear infections in dogs and what you can do to help prevent this painful condition from occurring.
Why do dogs get ear infections so often?
The shape of a dog's ear canal is one of the leading reasons behind their increased risk of ear infections. A dog's ear canals are shaped differently than a human's leaving them prone to these conditions. If your canine companion loves to swim or has long floppy ears they will be even more susceptible to ear infections since moisture can become trapped in the ear and create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
While they may be more common, there are methods of preventing these issues. The key is to prevent them as quickly as possible to avoid any further issues. Left untreated ear infections in dogs can develop quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain and in severe cases facial paralysis.
The Causes of Dog Ear Infections
While bacterial ear infections are the most common, there are other potential causes such as:
- Ear mites
- Foreign objects lodged in the ear
- Tumors / Polyps
The three parts of the ear that can become infected are:
- Otitis external (outer ear infection) infections affect the outside of the ear.
- Otitis media (middle ear infection) indicates an infection in the dog's middle ear.
- Otitis internal (inner ear infection) is the infection of your pet's inner ear.
The Common Symptoms of Ear Infections
Anyone who has ever had an ear infection knows that the associated pain can be brutal. If your dog shows any of the following signs of an ear infection contact your veterinarian immediately to book an examination for your pet. By having your dog examined as soon as possible you can help treatment begin sooner, reducing the risk of complications. Fungal and bacterial ear infections in dogs can each present their own symptoms but these will be similar.
The typical signs of an ear infection in dogs include:
- Pawing or rubbing at the ear
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
- Odor in the ear
- Redness inside of the ear
- Head shaking
- Tilting head
- Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
- Swelling of the ear
For severe ear infections in dogs, you may also notice the following symptoms:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
How to Treat Ear Infections in Dogs
Once the exam is complete and your dog has been diagnosed with an ear infection, the vet will offer a treatment plan including antibiotics. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.
While the speed at which your dog recovers depends on how quickly treatment began, the symptoms typically begin to clear up in a week or two. If your dog's ear infection is more severe or is caused by an underlying health condition, treatment may be more challenging and may take months to resolve. In many cases, more severe cases result in chronic ear infections in dogs or repeated ear infections over the course of the pet's lifetime.
You should always follow your vet's instructions exactly as given. This will help your dog to recover quickly and lower the risk of secondary conditions. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.
If your dog has been diagnosed and treated for an ear infection you should schedule a follow-up visit with the vet. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there may still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot. If you do not see treatment through as prescribed it can lead to a reoccurrence of the infection and serious complications.
The Prevention of Ear Infections in Dogs
Our Westport vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. The key to preventing ear infections is to keep your dog's ears clean and always dry them after they've been in water.
Speak to your primary care veterinarian about the best cleaning solution to use for your dog's ears, take the time to gently clean your dog's ears every week, and always dry your dog's ears every time they get out of water.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.