Dogs with ear infections make up a large number of appointments at our Murfreesboro veterinary hospital. Thankfully, ear infections can be easy to treat when found early. Here are some symptoms you can look out for and tips to help keep your dog's ears as healthy as they can be.
Your Dog's Ears
Dogs tend to be more susceptible to ear infections than people because of the shape of their ear canal. If your dog enjoys activities such as swimming or they have floppy ears, they are at higher risk of developing ear infections because moisture can become easily trapped and create a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
With a little extra care you can help prevent your dog from developing ear infections, but if they do, getting your dog to the vet right away can lead to quick relief from the discomfort your best friend is feeling. Ear infections in dogs can develop rapidly if left untreated and can result in concerning symptoms such as pain, issues with balance and coordination, and in severe cases facial paralysis.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
Bacteria is the leading cause of ear infections in dogs, however, yeast, fungus and ear mites can all cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Other causes of dog ear infections include foreign objects lodged in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.
There are three types of ear infections seen in dogs depending upon where the infection has occurred;
- Otitis interna which are infections of your pet's inner ear. (Inner ear infection)
- Otitis media indicates an infection in the dog's middle ear. (Middle ear infection)
- Otitis externa infections affect the outside of the ear. (Outer ear infection)
Signs That Your Dog May Have an Ear Infection
Whether your dog is suffering from an inner, middle, or outer ear infection, they may be experiencing some very painful or uncomfortable symptoms. If your dog shows any of the following signs of an ear infection contact your Murfreesboro veterinarian immediately to schedule an appointment. Quicker treatment means more severe symptoms can be avoided and chances of complications can be reduced.
Common signs of ear infections in dogs include:
- Pawing or rubbing at the ear
- Odor in the ear
- Swelling of the ear
- Redness inside of the ear
- Head shaking
- Tilting head
- Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
If the ear infection is severe you may notice that your dog displays other symptoms such as:
- Loss coordination or balance
- Indications of hearing loss
- Walking in circles
- Unusual eye movements
How Dog Ear Infections are Treated
If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection your vet will clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your dog'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.
With treatment in the early stages, a minor 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 over the course of the pet's lifetime.
Our Murfreesboro vets see many severe bacterial ear infections in dogs but by carefully following your veterinarian's instructions you can help relieve your dog's discomfort and learn how to prevent this issue from getting out of control in the future. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.
Follow-up appointments with your vet are highly recommended. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there may still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot. Finishing treatment before the infection has fully healed can lead to recurring symptoms that are difficult to treat.
Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs
Our Murfreesboro vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent your dog from developing an ear infection it is important to keep their 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.