Our Scottsdale vets frequently see ear infections in dogs - especially those with long, floppy ears. Fortunately, we can easily treat most dog ear infections if we catch them early. Here are some common signs of ear infections in dogs, and what to do if you suspect your dog may have an ear infection.
Your Dog's Ears
Does your dog swim often or have long, floppy ears? They will likely be more vulnerable to ear infections due to moisture becoming trapped in the ear, which creates an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish.
The shape of your pooch's ear canal can also mean they are more prone to ear infections than people typically are.
However, you can help to prevent your dog from developing ear infections with a little extra care.
If your pup does start to show signs of an ear infection, there's a good chance that it can be treated quickly and easily if you see a vet early. Left untreated, a severe ear infection may quickly develop, potentially leading to symptoms including loss of coordination or balance, pain and in severe cases, even paralysis in the face.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
The number one cause of ear infections in dogs is bacteria. That said, fungus, ear mites and yeast can all cause your dog's ears to become infected and painful. Other potential causes of dog ear infections include trauma, polyps or tumors, and foreign objects stuck in the ear.
Three other types of ear infections in dogs can occur, depending on where the infection has occurred:
- Otitis externa infections affect the outside of the ear (outer ear infection)
- Otitis media is an infection of the dog's middle ear (middle ear infection(
- Otitis interna are infections of your pet's inner ear (inner ear infection)
Common Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs
Similar to ear infections in people, dog ear infections can become very uncomfortable and even painful. If your dog displays any of these signs, contact your vet right away to schedule an examination for your pup.
The earlier the ear infection can be treated, the better chance your vet will have of preventing more severe symptoms from developing. This also reduces the risk of complications.
Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs
- 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
If your dog's ear infection is more severe you may notice other symptoms such as:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
How Dog Ear Infections are Treated
If your pup is diagnosed with an ear infection your vet will take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your pet's ear infection. 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.
An uncomplicated ear infection that is treated early 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 infections result in chronic or repeated ear infections over the course of the dog's lifetime.
Carefully following your vet's instructions will be essential to clearing up your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring or chronic ear infection that becomes increasingly difficult to get rid of.
Follow-up appointments with your vet are highly recommended when it comes to ear infections. While it may appear that the infection has cleared there could 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.
How to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs
Our Scottsdale vets believe that prevention is better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent your pet from developing an ear infection it is important to keep your dog's ears clean and dry.
Ask your vet 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 be sure to 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.