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Ear Infections in Dogs

A Common Ailment for Many

Your Dog’s Ears Need Protecting from Ear Infections

Ear infections in dogs is a very common ailment.  In fact, most dogs will suffer from an ear infection at least once in their life.  As a dog owner, spotting the signs of an ear infection is helpful. Moreso, being able to prevent or treat them is even better.  

What causes ear infections in dogs?

Bacteria and/or yeast are the cause of most ear infections in dogs.  More common in puppies, ear mites are also found to be a source of ear infections.  Having your veterinarian take a sample and look under the microscope will help them to identify the root of the problem.

What are the signs of an ear infection?

Becoming aware of the signs that your pet may have an ear infection will help you to address the infection before it gets out of hand.  Typical signs of ear infection are: scratching, rubbing, shaking of the ears, unusual odor coming from the ears, and/or pain and sensitivity in the ear area.

ear infections in dogs
Head shaking can be a sign of an ear infection in your dog

How can I prevent my dog from contracting an ear infection?

Ear infections commonly occur as a result of too much moisture in the ear canal.  This may be from bathing, swimming, or grooming.  The excess moisture creates an environment ideal for bacterial and yeast growth.  One way to prevent ear infections would be to routinely clean and dry your pet’s ears after bathing, swimming, or grooming.

Ear infections may also occur as a side effect of your pet’s allergies.  These allergies may come from pollens, dust, mold, or food.  When a dog suffers from an allergic reaction, the skin inside the ear becomes inflamed and promotes the growth of bacteria and/or yeast already living inside the ear.  To prevent ear infections from occurring as a result of allergies, you must first identify the source of the allergy and then try to reduce your pet’s exposure to the particular allergen.  Also, routinely cleaning and drying the ear with ear cleaner made specifically for dogs will help to prevent bacterial and yeast growth.

How do I treat my dog’s ear infections?

If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, the best thing to do is take him to see your veterinarian.  Special medication is typically prescribed for treating the ear infection. 

First, you will need to gently clean the infected area with a mild dog ear cleaning solution.  Pour a small amount into the ear and carefully cover it with a cotton ball. Then, rub the cotton ball softly in a circular motion.  Repeat the process for as long as your dog will allow until the cotton ball comes out fairly clean. 

Once cleaned, the ear is ready for the medication that your vet has prescribed.  Many vets warn to never use Q-tips. These may push the debris further into the ear canal. Also, never use harsh cleansers such as rubbing alcohol.  In most cases, topical ointment is all that is needed to effectively treat a dog’s ear infection.  However, in severe cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed as well.

Considering the likelihood that your dog will eventually encounter an ear infection at some time in their life, and also considering how much pain and discomfort they may go through, it is wise to be aware of the signs of ear infections, ways to prevent them, as well as ways to treat them.  Your perky-eared pet will be very thankful!

Additional Reading

Cesar Milan offers a great article written by Henry Cerny, DVM MS on his website addressing this very topic. For additional reading, have a look.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.