Ear infections are even more common in dogs than they are in humans! Most dogs suffer from this painful condition at some point. Dogs who are prone to allergies or have floppy ears can be especially vulnerable (such as Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Poodles). Dogs who tend to grow hair in the inner ear canal, such as Schnauzers, are also susceptible to ear infections.
What causes an ear infection?
Ear infections in adult dogs are usually caused by bacteria and yeast, or even an allergy. When it comes to puppies the cause of an ear infection is most likely to be ear mites. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned below take your dog to the vet to find out exactly what is causing the infection and thus properly treat it.
- Ear scratching
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
- Odor in the ear
- Crusted or scabby skin on the near ear flap
- Hair loss around the ear
- Wiping the ear area on the floor or furniture
- Head shaking or head tilt
- Loss of balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
- Hearing loss
What can I do to prevent this?
- Check your dog’s ears regularly for any of the symptoms above.
- If his ear canal appears dirty, clean it with a cotton ball dampened with a cleaning solution (preferably one suggested by your vet). Do not clean too often or too deep, it can cause irritation.
- Make sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly and carefully after baths and swimming.
- See with your vet if a canine ear drying solution would be ok for your dog if they are especially prone to infections.
- If your dog grows hair in or around the opening of his ear canals, periodically tweeze it away.
- Since the inner-ear skin is delicate ask your vet to demonstrate the proper method for maintaining your dog’s ear health.
- A routine cleaning with a gentle dog-approved ear cleaner may be necessary to reduce the frequency of recurrent ear infections in dogs with allergies.
How can I treat it?
First clean the ear with a gentle cleanser (since the ear will be painful). How? Fill the ear canal with the cleaning solution then place a cotton ball in the ear canal opening and gently massage the ear at the base. The cotton ball helps big time: it acts as a lid to allow the fluid to go back and forth in the canal, absorbs the excess solution and holds onto the debris as it comes up! All in all very useful… if you can repeat this several times until the cotton ball is clean then do so!
- Do not use Q-Tip swabs as they may push debris deeper into the ear canal and rupture the eardrum.
- Do not use rubbing alcohol or other solutions that are irritating to inflamed skin.
Now that the ear is clean wait 10 minutes before applying the medicine your veterinarian prescribed.
The infection may heal quickly or take time depending on the dog and/or severity of infection. Your dog may even need oral medication like antibiotics, anti-yeast or anti-inflammatories.