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Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infection in dogs is a chronic problem for many breeds, and may turn serious if left untreated. Today, our Jackson vets describe different types of ear infection and how they are treated and diagnosed. 

Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections are quite common in dogs, and it's usually easy to spot the symptoms. Your dog may scratch their ear, whine, shake their head, or have a discharge or wax buildup.

But what if your dog doesn't show any symptoms? And what are the consequences if the infection goes untreated?

In fact, there are three types of ear infections that can occur in dogs, and they are:

Otitis Externa (Outer Ear)

Also referred to as “infection of the external ear canal”, or “otitis externa”, outer ear infection is one of the most common types found in dogs.

Otitis Media (Middle Ear) and Otitis Interna (Inner Ear)

If outer ear infections are left undetected or untreated, they can progress to middle and inner ear infections. These more severe infections can result in serious complications such as vestibular symptoms, deafness, and facial paralysis. That's why it's extremely important to identify outer ear infections early on and take all necessary precautions to prevent them.

Which dog breeds are susceptible to ear infections?

Certain breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Poodles, are more susceptible to ear infections due to the shape of their ear canals. Dogs with large, hairy, or floppy ears are at a higher risk. However, it's important to note that ear infections can occur in dogs of any breed.

Symptoms of Ear Infection in Dogs

Aside from wax buildup and discharge in the ear canal, some dogs will not show any symptoms of ear infection and in others, serious symptoms can appear. Serious symptoms may include:

  • Odor
  • Scratching at the affected ear
  • Head shaking
  • Dark discharge
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Redness or swelling in the ear canal
  • Crusting or scabs in the ears

Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs

More fluid tends to collect in dogs’ ear canals than humans, due to our furry friends’ L-shaped ear canal. This leaves them more vulnerable to infection.

Bacteria, yeast or a mix of both are common causes of infection. Other factors that can contribute to infections include:

  • Injury to ear canal
  • Allergies (skin diseases or food sensitivities)
  • Moisture, which creates an environment where yeast and bacteria thrive, causing bacterial ear infections in dogs
  • Wax buildup

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, it is important to seek veterinary care promptly. This will help alleviate immediate pain and discomfort, as well as prevent the infection from spreading to the inner or middle ear.

When visiting the veterinarian, be prepared to provide information about your dog's medical history, symptoms of the ear infection, recent activities (such as swimming or grooming), and diet. The vet will conduct a thorough physical examination, paying close attention to the ears.

To start the treatment process, the vet may use a medicated ear cleanser to clean your dog's ears. They may also prescribe a topical medication for you to administer at home. In severe cases, oral antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed.

While most uncomplicated infections resolve within 1 to 2 weeks, severe symptoms or underlying conditions may lead to chronic ear infections or a longer recovery time.

In cases of severe chronic disease, surgery to remove the ear canal may be recommended. This surgical intervention aims to eliminate diseased tissue and prevent future infection.

Remember, early detection and proper treatment are key to ensuring your dog's ear infection is effectively addressed and their overall well-being is maintained.

What can happen if my dog’s ear infection is left untreated?

A qualified vet will need to treat your dog right away if he is showing signs of ear infection. An untreated ear infection or lapses in treatment can develop into severe infection and lead to serious issues.

If antibiotics are prescribed, ensure the full course of treatment is completed, even if your dog’s ear infection looks as if it’s cleared up before the antibiotics are finished. As mentioned above, untreated outer ear infections may lead to more serious middle and inner ear infections.

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.

Do you think your dog may have an ear infection? Contact our Jackson animal clinic today to book an examination.

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Northside Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jackson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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