Ear Infections On The Rise: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent
Just look at those loveable floppy Bassett ears. Soft, silky, but a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, and mites. Sad but true, under those cute ears your dog could be harboring an infection. Ear infections in dogs are common. In fact, in 2018 Embrace Pet Insurance1 listed ear infections as third on the list of the top 5 medical conditions for pets.
In this month’s blog, we help you identify ear infections in your dog and provide tips on treating and prevention.
Signs of Infection
Common signs of ear infection include:
- Shaking of the head
- Head tilt
If your dog is showing any of these signs, please visit the clinic as soon as possible. Ear infections can be painful. Delaying treatment can increase the risk that the infection will spread to the middle and inner ear, resulting in deafness or other severe conditions.
Causes of Ear Infection
Many things can cause an ear infection in dogs. Typically, a dog’s ear canal is dry and clean. When the ear becomes moist and has a buildup of debris, it makes the ear more susceptible to the growth of bacteria and yeast, both of which can lead to infections. Here are some of the common causes of ear infections.
- Foreign bodies
- Ear mites
- Excessive moisture from bathing or swimming
- Food allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism
- Autoimmune diseases such as pemphigus, lupus, or vasculitis
- Polyps (fleshy growths inside the ear canal)
- Certain types of cancer
- Trauma to the ear
If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, bring them to the clinic for a thorough exam. Treatment options will depend on the severity of the infection and may include topical and/or oral medications. In severe cases, surgery may be needed if your dog is not responding to medication, or the ear canal needs to be cleared of diseased tissue.
Preventing Ear Infections
To help reduce the chances of ear infections in your dog, here are a few recommendations.
- Regularly check and clean your dog’s ears as part of their grooming routine. If this is difficult or you are not able to perform this task at home, our groomers at AVAC include ear cleaning as part of the bathing service.
- Keep your dog’s ear dry. If they like swimming or take regular baths, make sure you use a paper or cloth towel to dry the inside flap and around the opening of the ear canal.
- Home-made ear cleaning solutions are not recommended. If you need a pet-approved solution, please speak with our vets.
While certain breeds may experience ear infections more than others (Bassett Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Pit Bulls, Poodles, Shar-Peis, Schnauzers, and dogs with allergies), taking a little time to regularly check and keep their ears clean and dry, will help you reduce their chance of infection. For additional help, contact us to schedule a thorough exam and provide medication, if needed.
Julie Grimes, DVM