Do you know the signs of ear infections in dogs if you see them? You should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of dog ear infection since this causes discomfort and stress to your dog because of the intense pain it brings. Ear infection in dogs can be due to a wide variety of factors, but whatever the cause is, any case of dog ear infection or otitis requires the attention of the veterinarian. Proper diagnosis of the condition must be done by the professional to ensure that the right treatment plan is implemented, since the wrong medication or method of treatment may just worsen the condition or result to complications.
Types of Ear Infections in Dogs
Dog ear infections are categorized into three, namely, outer ear infection, middle ear infection and inner ear infection. The least severe type is the infection of the outer ear. This can be easily recognized because the symptoms such as swelling and redness of the outer ear, and the putrid smell coming from ear wax are readily identifiable. On the other hand, the middle ear infections as well as the outer ear infections are the more severe types of ear infections in dogs. In general, these types necessitate special treatment methods and require immediate attention from a qualified veterinarian as they could easily get worse and lead to complications such as dog deafness.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs
Depending on the severity, dogs suffering from ear infections will display different signs and symptoms. The following behaviors and signs are commonly observed in dogs with otitis.
- Regular shaking of the ears and head
- Pawing and scratching at their ears
- Rubbing the sides of their heads on nearby objects such as furniture, wall and the ground
- Inflammation and redness of the ear canal or ear flap
- Foul-smelling, blackish or yellowish discharge coming from the ears
- Bacterial ear infection – This is easily recognizable by its distinctive mark of a heady smell coming from the ears. It also comes with redness, pain and inflammation, as well as abnormal or excessive ear discharge.
- Yeast ear infection – Aside from the symptoms stated above, dog ear infection caused by yeast could also result to itching, dryness and scaling. Unlike the pungent smell of the bacterial infection, yeast infection has a chalky odor. This type of infection can also extend to other parts of the dog’s face.
When the ear infection has worsened, other signs also become evident such as deafness or difficulty hearing. You may notice that your dog seems not to hear the usual sounds from the surroundings or does not acknowledge when he is being called. He may also look disoriented, regularly tilts his head or walks in circles. These happen when the infection has impinged on a nerve in the inner ear.
Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs
The most common reasons for dog ear infections are bacteria and yeast. These microorganisms are naturally present in dogs’ ears. An overgrowth of either one could lead to infection.
Different factors can encourage ear infections in dogs. For instance, water trapped inside the ears can promote overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. It is, hence, important to ensure that your dog’s ears are dry and clean especially after bathing him. In addition, imbalances in the hormonal levels can foster ear infection, such as in the case of hypothyroidism. Genetics also has something to do with otitis, since some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to dog ear infection such as the Labrador Retrievers, West Highland Terriers and Cocker Spaniels. Those with floppy ears are also more vulnerable because foreign materials such as water get trapped in their ears more easily.
Treatment for Ear Infections in Dogs
The treatment method employed largely depends on the location and the type of infection. In general, medicinal ointments or drops and antibiotics are used for a specified duration to treat the infection. It is crucial to follow the treatment plan to the letter to ascertain that the infection will not recur. The underlying cause of the infection should also be determined and addressed accordingly to prevent the recurrence of ear infections.
Prevention of Ear Infections in Dogs
Ear infections in dogs can be avoided by taking proper care of your dog’s ears. Always make sure that the ears are dry so that yeast and bacterial imbalance or overgrowth is prevented. Check your dog’s ears regularly to make sure that no foreign materials or substances are trapped inside that may cause ear irritation and infection. If your dog does not have floppy ears, it is not really necessary to clean them frequently since the dog can do it himself. In truth, the ears could even get injured due to constant cleaning. Should you doubt that your dog is suffering from an ear infection, it is best to bring your dog to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.