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How to Treat Dog Ear Infection?

Dogs are more prone to ear infections due to their unique ear anatomy. To treat dog ear infection, you should know that the dog ear canal is in L shaped, i.e., vertical and horizontal, due to which there is more chance for a dog to get an ear infection. According to research, almost 20% of dogs suffer from ear infections due to different reasons.

Most pet owners identify the dog ear infection by noticing change in their habits like whining and ear scratching. That might be due to discomfort or pain due to an infection in the ear. To treat the dog ear infection, you need to understand that a dog’s ear canal is more vertical, due to which there are more chances for bacteria or yeast to cause a dog ear infection. A dog may have three types of infections depending upon the part of the ear that is infected.

  • Otitis externa refers to the inflammation of the outer ear that affects the lining of cells in the external ear.
  • Otitis media is the inflammation of the middle ear and leads to infection of the middle ear.
  • Otitis interna is an infection of the internal ear and, in severe cases, can lead to neurological damage like facial paralysis and deafness.

Of all the above infections, Otitis externa is the most common. Approximately 20% of dogs are affected because the dog’s floppy ears are more exposed to the outer environment. These dog ear infections may become chronic and may cause permanent damage if not treated promptly.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection

In most cases, dog ear infections do not show apparent signs. It is common for dogs to develop mild wax in the ear where bacteria and yeast live. But when there is an excess wax buildup in the dog ear canal, a dog ear infection may occur, and dogs may show some obvious signs. These symptoms can help dog owners to identify and treat dog ear infections.

Some of the common symptoms are as follows:

  • Itching
  • Whining
  • Redness
  • Ear scratching
  • Discharge
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Odor
  • Shaking of head
  • Crusty scabs in the outer ear canal

The dog owners should not ignore these signs because if not treated on time, the dog ear infection can lead to secondary infections, which can be more painful condition for the dog.

Causes of Dog Ear Infection

The dogs have L shaped ear canal. This vertical ear canal holds fluids, and this moisture is a perfect condition for bacteria or yeast to develop an infection. Some of the other factors that lead to dog ear infections are as follows:

  • Allergies in dogs may cause ear infections. This includes skin allergies and food sensitivities.
  • Mites mainly cause ear infections in puppies
  • Excessive moisture due to more swimming or improper cleaning of the ear
  • Foreign bodies getting into the dog ear canal
  • Improper functioning of the thyroid gland
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Excessive wax buildup
  • Injury in the ear canal

Precise Diagnosis to Treat Dog Ear Infection

To properly treat dog ear infection, it is necessary to diagnose the problem precisely. Whenever you feel that your dog is not feeling well and notice the symptoms like head shaking, scratching the ear, and redness, you should immediately visit the vet and report the problem. The vet will ask some common questions regarding your dog’s behavior from the onset of the disease, like:

  • Your dog’s grooming routine like swimming, bathing, and washing
  • The products that you use to clean the dog’s ear
  • Certain medicines that your dog takes
  • Any allergy or any recent infection in the dog’s medical history
  • If you have trimmed the hairs in the dog’s ear.

So, be prepared, as your answers will help the vet diagnose the disease and further assist in treating dog ear infection. After recording your answers, the vet will take some tests to further help with the diagnosis. Some of them include:

  • Physical exam of the ear using an Otoscope to look deep inside the middle ear and the inner ear
  • General palpation to check the severity of pain
  • Ear swab tests for a microscopic view of the infection
  • X-Ray for severe infections

Treatment of Dog Ear Infection

The vet will first clean the dog using certain medicines to eliminate any wax buildup. Further, the vet will prescribe topical ear drops and ear cleanser to be used at home. He may prescribe dog ear infection antibiotics or certain anti-inflammatory medicines for dog ear infections depending upon the severity of the problem. It may take 1 to 2 weeks to treat the uncomplicated infections with proper treatment.

Total Ear Canal Ablation

If not diagnosed and treated on time, these infections become complicated and may take months to recover or, in some cases, become a chronic disease. Such infections severely affect the dog’s ear, and the vets then carry out Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) to completely remove the affected cells of the ear.

It is necessary to address this issue adequately otherwise. It can further infect the middle and the inner ear, leading to severe consequences.

Follow your vet’s advice strictly when seeking the treatment of dog ear infections. Give medicine on time and never miss the scheduled visit to the vet. And Avoid any lapses in the treatment as it can increase the chances of recurrence of the disease, which may be more problematic to you and your pet.

If you notice that your dog is getting better or thoroughly recovered, continue the medicine course according to the vet’s advice. Any negligence can severely affect your dog’s ear. And never attempt to treat dog ear infections at home, as it can lead to adverse outcomes.

Prevention of Dog Ear Infection

The dog ear infection can be prevented if you maintain proper ear hygiene. Follow the vet’s advice to avoid dog ear infections:

  • Dry the dog’s ear thoroughly after taking a bath or a swim
  • Identify any allergy and provide proper treatment
  • Maintain appropriate hygiene of the ear

Steps to Clean the Dog’s Ears

Take the following steps when cleaning your dog’s ears at home:

  • Pull the ear flap straight and fill the dog ear canal with medicine.
  • Let the medicine move down to the middle ear and inner ear by keeping the ear flap vertical.
  • Gently massage the ear canal so that the medicine moves to the internal parts of the ear.
  • Then wipe the ear using absorbent gauze and gently clean the external pinna.

Avoid using cotton or paper towels to wipe the tears as they can leave
small fibers in the dog’s ear which can cause discomfort and irritation.

Ear infections are common in dogs and you can treat dog ear infection with proper care and medication. Always try to address any minor symptom that you notice, as it can help resolve the issue at the early stage and avoid severe conditions.


How to prevent dog ear infection?

The dog ear infection can be prevented if you maintain proper ear hygiene. Follow the vet’s advice to avoid dog ear infections:

  • Dry the dog’s ear thoroughly after taking a bath or a swim
  • Identify any allergy and provide proper treatment
  • Maintain appropriate hygiene of the ear

Are dog ear infections contagious?

Most of the dog ear infections are not contagious but if it is caused by dog ear mites it can be contagious. You can prevent this infection by using antibiotics and proper treatment by vet.

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