Bad ear infections are a common reason that our Phoenix emergency vets see our canine patients. We are here to talk about common and severe ear infections in dogs and what to do to help them feel better.
Your Dog's Ears
Oftentimes, dogs can become prone to ear infections because of the shape of their ear canal. If your pup enjoys a good swim or has long floppy ears that trap moisture, they will be even more susceptible to developing ear infections. Trapped moisture creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.
Nonetheless, with some extra care, you can help to prevent your pup from developing ear infections, and if your dog does develop an infection, there's a good chance that it can be cleared up quickly if you head to the vet right away. 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
Bacteria is the number one cause of dog ear infections, but there are other culprits. Yeast, fungus and ear mites can all cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Other causes of dog ear infections include foreign objects lodged in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.
There are three types of ear infections seen in dogs depending on where the infection has occurred:
- Outer ear infection - Otitis externa infections affect the outside of the ear.
- Middle ear infection - Otitis media indicates an infection in the dog's middle ear.
- Inner ear infection - Otitis interna which are infections of your pet's inner ear.
Signs That Your Dog May Have an Ear Infection
Ear infections can be very painful or uncomfortable for your pup. If your dog shows any of the following signs of an ear infection contact your veterinarian immediately to book an examination for your pet. Early treatment of ear infections can help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing and reduce the chances of complications.
Common signs of ear infections in dogs include:
- Odor in the ear
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
- Pawing or rubbing at the ear
- Redness inside of the ear
- Tilting head
- Swelling of the ear
- Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
- Head shaking
If the ear infection is severe you may notice that your pooch displays other symptoms such as:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
How Dog Ear Infections Are Treated
If your dog does in fact have an ear infection, their vet will clean their ear out fully with medicated cleansers. They will then prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatories depending on the type of ear infection your dog has. 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.
With treatment in the early stages, an uncomplicated ear infection will typically clear up within just 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.
The best way to help your dog is to follow the instructions your vet has given you to the letter. If you don't follow the treatment plan, or don't finish the prescription, it can lead to the issue recurring and becoming more difficult to treat.
Follow-up appointments with your vet are highly recommended for dog ear infections. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there may still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot. Finishing treatment before the infection has fully healed can lead to recurring symptoms that are difficult to treat.
Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs
Our Phoenix vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent your pup from developing an ear infection it is important to keep your pet's ears clean and dry.
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 whenever they come out of the 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.