We treat a lot of dogs with ear infections here at our Seattle veterinary clinic. Fortunately, most dog ear infections are easy to treat if diagnosed early. Today our vets share some signs that your pup might have an ear infection and what you should do.
Dogs tend to be more susceptible to ear infections than people due in large part to the shape of their ear canals. If your dog spends a lot of time in water or has long floppy ears they will be even more prone to ear infections since moisture can become trapped in the ear and create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
By taking a little extra care with your pup's ears you can help to prevent your pooch from developing an ear infection, and if your pup does get an infection, by seeing a vet early there's a good chance that it can be cleared up quickly and easily. Left untreated ear infections in dogs can develop quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain and in severe cases facial paralysis.
Common Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs
Bacterial ear infections in dogs are the most common however, yeast, fungus and ear mites can all cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Dog ear infections can also occur due to foreign objects lodged in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.
There are three types of ear infections that can occur in dogs depending upon where the infection has occurred;
- Outer ear infections or otitis externa in dogs
- Middle ear infection or otitis media in dogs
- Inner ear infection or otitis interna in dogs
Signs That Your Dog Might Have an Ear Infection
Ear infections can be very uncomfortable, or even painful for your pup. If your dog shows any of the following signs of an ear infection contact your vet right away to book an examination for your pooch. Early treatment of ear infections can help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing and reduce the chances of complications.
If your dog is suffering from an ear infection they may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pawing or rubbing at the ear
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
- Odor in the ear
- Redness inside of the ear
- Head shaking
- Tilting head
- Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
- Swelling of the ear
If your dog's ear infection is more severe you may notice other symptoms such as:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
How Ear Infections in Dogs Are Treated
If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection your vet will take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your pet's ear infection. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.
When treated in the early stages, an uncomplicated ear infection will typically clear up within just a week or two. If your dog's ear infection is more severe or is caused by an underlying health condition, treatment may be more challenging and may take months to resolve. In many cases, more severe cases result in chronic ear infections in dogs or repeated ear infections over the course of the pet's lifetime.
Following your vet's instructions carefully will be essential to clearing up your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to recurring, chronic or more severe ear infections in dogs that may become increasingly difficult to treat.
Follow-up appointments with your vet are highly recommended for dog ear infections. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there can still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot.
Preventing Ear Infections in Your Dog
Our vets at Northgate Veterinary Clinic in Seattle believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent your canine companion from developing an ear infection it is important to keep your pup's ears clean and dry.
Speak to your primary care veterinarian about the best cleaning solution to use for your dog's ears, take the time to gently clean your dog's ears every week, and always dry your dog's ears whenever they come out of the water.
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.