When it comes to dogs their ears can be particularly prone to ear infections so its important to know what to look out for and how to make sure they are not suffering. Ear infections that are left untreated are not only painful, but they could lead to long term problems and even deafness.
The good news is that ear infections are generally easily treatable and are also very preventable as well, as long as you know what to look out for and make sure you notice any problems with your dog’s ears early on.
What can cause a dog’s ear infection?
There are a number of different causes for ear infections among dogs but essentially, they develop when the surface of the skin within the ear becomes unhealthy, and this happens for several reasons. Some of the more common causes are:
Germs within the ear
It’s totally normal for dogs to have germs living within their ears and this is generally harmless but if the skin surface becomes irritated or inflamed, germs can grow within it and that’s when problems occur. Ear infections can be caused by bacteria and germs growing in the skin.
Mites within the ear
Tiny mites can infest your dog’s ear at any time and can be spread from other animals or picked up from the ground or while out for a walk. They can cause a lot of irritation and itchiness in your dog’s ears which will cause him to scratch. This can then cause skin inflammation and consequently ear infections.
Floppy ear issues
If your dog has floppy ears, they are even more likely to suffer from ear infections because their ears can trap moisture within them. This moisture can encourage germs and yeast to grow rapidly as they like moist and dark places to live. It’s much easier for upright dog ears to dry out in the air compared with floppy ears unfortunately. Also, if you have a litter of puppies with floppy ears, they can spread germs to each other by playing with each other’s ears.
Many dogs suffer from allergies including food allergies, and it has been shown that dogs with allergies often suffer more frequently from ear infections, so it is worth getting your dog allergy tested if he has regular ear problems.
How do I know if my dog has an ear infection?
It’s important to be able to spot an ear infection quickly as your dog will be in pain and you don’t want him to be suffering. Based on her experience she says that symptoms to look out for include your dog scratching his ears regularly and shaking his head.
You might also notice his ears smell bad and there might be discharge coming from them as well as the skin inside looking red and sore, so regular inspections of your dog’s ears will alert you to any problems quickly.
How to rid your dogs of ear infections
Once an infection has taken place in your dog’s ears, the only way to get rid of it fully and safely is to take your dog to the vet and to get the right treatment. Ear infections don’t just go away on their own and left untreated are liable to get worse.
When you take your dog to the vet with a potential ear infection, the vet will swab his ears and examine that to check what the cause is. The vet will be able to see whether it is mites, or a yeast infection, or a bacterial infection.
Once they can see which type of infection it is, they will then prescribe the most appropriate medication for your dog. It might be a cream to apply to his skin, or potentially medication your dog will need to swallow.
Treatment normally works quite quickly and only takes a couple of weeks to work fully and clear the infection so your dog should be back to his normal self. However, if your dog gets repeated ear infections, it might be worth asking your vet to carry out allergy testing as there might be a need to change something in his diet, environment or a requirement for allergy medication.
What can I do to help my dog?
The most important thing is to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry, and you buy dog ear wash from pet stores or vets. You need to make sure your dog is comfortable, and it might be that your vet can show you how to do it for your first attempt. You should aim to clean them around once a month.
You also need to work out what is causing the ear infections, so if it’s allergies, the underlying problem needs to be treated and not just the infections which are a result of an allergic reaction to something else.