Ear Infections in Dogs

Because the ear canal in dogs is mostly vertical (unlike a human ear canal that is horizontal), it is easy for debris and moisture to be retained in the ear canal. Ear disease usually stems from over-production of wax as occurs in response to irritation.

Allergic skin disease affecting the ears is the most common cause, especially in recurring cases. Other causes of ear infections include ear mites, hair growth deep in the canal, recent bathing or swimming, or an underlying thyroid disorder. The moisture of the wax promotes bacterial growth and infection. Soon wax in the ears is joined by bacteria and yeast, as well as secondary inflammation.

Symptoms of Ear Infection

The following symptoms may indicate that your dog needs to have his ears checked by a veterinarian: odour in the ear, head shaking or head tilt, scratching of the ear or area around the ear, brown, yellow, or bloody discharge and redness, and crusts or scabs on inside of the outer ear. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms described above, he or she should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Ear infections can be very painful and if left untreated can harm both the ear canal and middle ear.

Treating Ear Infections

Most ear infections are cleared up simply with professional cleaning followed by appropriate medication at home. A sample of the ear discharge is commonly examined under the microscope to assist in selecting the type of medication for home use as well as the duration of treatment needed. After appropriate home treatment, the ear canals are rechecked to be sure the infection is completely resolved. In most cases this completes treatment, but for stubborn or more complex cases, further diagnostics and treatments may be necessary. Some dogs with chronic recurrent ear problems may require a long-term maintenance plan, determined on a case by case basis.

How to prevent ear infection in dogs?

Check your dog’s ears regularly for abnormal discharge, odour and redness. If your dog’s outer ear appears dirty, clean the ear gently with a cotton ball dampened with a solution suggested by your veterinarian. DO NOT put anything into your dog’s ear canal without advice from your veterinarian, as it may do more harm than good. Your veterinarian can also make recommendations on how frequently you should clean your dog’s ears if needed.

After baths and swimming, be sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly.

If your dog has excessive hair in the outer ear canal, it should be removed. You can bring your dog to your Veterinarian for the hair to be properly removed, or a groomer may also be willing to do this.