Broward County Dog Owners: What are the Signs of a Dog Ear Infection?
As a pet parent, there is not much worse than watching your dog suffer. If you have noticed your dog shaking its head, scratching, or whining it could be your first sign their ears are infected. But, how do you know for sure?
In this article, we’ll go over what pet owners in Broward County, FL need to know about dog ear infections.
Symptoms of a Dog Ear Infection
If you suspect your dog’s scratching, whining or shaking is due to an ear infection, you should take them to your veterinary provider. However, if those signs are not severe and you want to be sure, there are other ways to tell if your dog has an ear infection. In addition to those three common signs, there are some others you can watch for, which include:
- Bad smell coming from ear
- Dark, or bloody, discharge
- Swollen or red ear canal
- Crust or scabs in or around ear
- Loss of balance
- Hair loss
While these signs are obvious signs you might notice if your dog has an ear infection, there are some symptoms that might not necessarily point to a problem with your dog’s ears. Those include strange eye movements or walking around in circles. It never hurts to take a peek inside your dog’s ears to see if there is an issue.
Common Types of Dog Ear Infections
Ear infections can happen to any dog. Though how they happen can vary. The American Kennel Club, or AKC, names three types of ear infections that are common in dogs. Those include the otitis externa, media, and the interna.
Otitis externa is the most common type of ear infection found in dogs. This happens when the external ear canal becomes inflamed.
Otitis Media and Interna
Otitis media and interna can be thought of as middle and inner ear infections. This often happens as infection spreads from the external ear canal further into the ear. These types of infections are less common, and more severe, and can lead to a number of health issues, including deafness or paralysis of the face.
What Causes a Dog Ear Infection?
While ear infections can happen to any dog, certain breeds are more susceptible to them. Floppy- and long-eared dogs – such as basset hounds and cocker spaniels – are more likely to have problems with ear infection. It is also typical to see ear infections in dogs that regularly swim. For these dogs, moisture is most often the cause of the ear infection, but bacteria and yeast can also lead to complications with your dog’s ears, as well as trauma from an accident, or objects in the ear that should not be there.
Not all ear infections in dogs have external causes. Some health conditions could make your dog more prone to problems, as well. Some of those conditions include:
If your dog does suffer from allergies, keeping an eye on their ears is critical. Usually, the skin is the first place you will notice allergy issues, and that inflammation and irritation can also affect your dog’s ears. Food allergies can also lead to problems with your dog’s ears, so it is important to take all health factors into account when determining what could be causing ear infections.
Thyroid Disease (Endocrine)
Typically, dogs with a thyroid condition have Hypothyroidism, which slows the metabolism. In addition to pain, swelling and redness in the ears, it can also cause infections.
While considered rare, many autoimmune disorders result in problems with the skin in dogs, including the ears. The inflammation can lead to infections in the ear canal.
In some cases, ear mites can travel between pets while interacting with each other. While this is rare, ear mites are infectious.
Treating and Preventing Dog Ear Infections
So, how can you make your dog feel better? The first thing to do is make an appointment to be assessed and diagnosed by your veterinarian. Following a complete and thorough examination, your veterinarian will likely use a medicated ear cleanser to ensure your dog’s ears are as clean as possible.
They may also provide cleanser or topical medicines for you to apply to your dog’s ears while at home. Some cases can be severe, and may require prescription medicines such as an antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory.
In most cases, an ear infection will clear up within a couple of weeks. However, more serious cases, especially those involving underlying medical conditions, can sometimes take months to heal. If ear infections become chronic, surgical intervention may be needed. Surgery is typically a last resort when other treatments have failed.
For some dogs, ear infections can become a recurring problem. But there are several things you can do at home to help prevent these issues. They include:
- Keep dogs’ ears dry. Because moisture is a common cause of ear infections, drying your dog’s ears after a bath or a swim is very important. Trimming the hair in the ears, especially in dogs with long or floppy ears, can also help to eliminate excess moisture.
- Clean your dog’s ears regularly. Once a week clean thoroughly clean your dog’s ears with a medicated cleanser. If you are not sure what to use, just ask your veterinarian’s advice. Also, you want to use fabrics that are absorbent, and do not leave fibers behind. Materials like this, such as paper towels and cotton, can lead to even more irritation.
- Manage any underlying health conditions. If your dog suffers from conditions, such as allergies or autoimmune disorders, be sure to partner with your veterinarian to keep them under control. Keeping your dog’s overall health in check can help avoid further problems in the future.
Taking care of your dog’s ear infection is important, because it can lead to other serious issues. Because of the constant discomfort of itchy or hurting ears, dogs will scratch and shake their heads. This can lead to a condition called aurul hematoma, which impacts the blood vessels in the ear flap and may need surgery to repair. Ear infections can also lead to issues with the eardrum, which could result in permanent hearing loss.
So, at the first sign of possible ear infection, be sure to have your dog examined by a veterinary professional.