Dogs frequently have ear infections, and certain breeds are more susceptible than others.
We pet owners occasionally overlook the early warning signals and discover an infection only when the ears are excruciatingly itching, furious, and painful. Fortunately, there are things we can do to cut down on vet expenditures and lessen how often this uncomfortable illness occurs.
Ear Infection Types and Causes
For the purposes of this article, there are two forms of ear infections: middle or inner ear infections and outer ear infections, which affect the eardrum or tympanic membrane (on the inside of the tympanic membrane).
The most frequent form, outer ear infections, are frequently brought on by a moist environment, excessive wax buildup (which traps bacteria), allergies that compromise the skin barrier, or injury to the ear. In these circumstances, yeast (Malassezia sp. ), cocci bacteria (frequently Staphylococcus sp. ), and rod bacteria all infect the outer region of the ear (commonly Pseudomonas sp.).
When a pathogen infects the part of the ear that is inside the tympanic membrane, it can result in inner or middle ear infections. Numerous species (bacteria, yeast, and fungus) can have an effect on these regions, and a persistent outer ear infection can result in pathogen exposure and tympanic membrane damage, which can lead to middle or inner ear infections.
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Ear Infection Warning Signs
You are very familiar with the following signs if your dog has ever had an ear infection: An active and painful infection is indicated by head shaking, scratching with the back of the thigh, rubbing the head on furniture or carpet, redness on the ear flap, and occasionally odor and discharge. On occasion, the trauma from the scratching will also cause a hot spot to appear on the face.
When the infection is severe, these symptoms appear. The affected canal will likely have little lumps, be red and maybe swollen, and likely have a thick, unpleasant-smelling brown or yellow discharge. There are also less obvious indications that something is off. Your dog may also be showing early signs of an infection or inflammation in the outer ear canal if he is slightly tilting his head to one side or appears tired.
Read Dr. Thompson’s article on the possible causes of your dog’s stinky ears if you are unsure whether it is an ear infection. Visit your vet for a proper diagnosis of an ear infection.
More severe symptoms of middle and inner ear infections include head tilt, circling, anorexia or difficulty chewing, drooling, nausea, and quick side-to-side eye movements. This is a considerably more serious condition that needs veterinary help and can necessitate a visit to a specialist.
Treatment and Diagnosis of Ear Infection
Once treatment is initiated, acute outer ear infections usually get well fast and are quite simple to detect. Cleaning and ear drops are the most typical treatments. Cleaning your dog’s ears with an over-the-counter cleanser, like Zymox drops, can immediately alleviate the symptoms of an infection if it is found early or is minor.
When utilizing a cleaner without having it examined by a veterinarian, caution should be used. Using an ear cleaning might force the infection into the middle ear if the tympanic membrane is compromised, putting your dog at risk for a later, more serious issue. Prescription drops with a steroid, an antibiotic, and an antifungal are needed for the majority of infections. Due to the steroid, this provides quick relief and is typically curative.
Sometimes a lengthier course of treatment—and perhaps an oral steroid—is necessary to relieve more severe inflammation and persistent infections. If allergies are a factor in the infection, treating the underlying allergy may help prevent a recurrence. It is advised to diagnose and treat allergies step-by-step because both food and environmental allergies can cause ear infections.
The most common treatment for middle and inner ear infections is a broad-spectrum oral antibiotic or antifungal. Oral steroids might be advantageous. Treatment options for nausea and anorexia may include symptomatic therapy, however, severely afflicted dogs may need more careful care.
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Avoiding Ear Infection
The best medicine is always prevention. There may not be a need for routine preventative cleaning if you only get an ear infection once a year. However, a regular cleaning with an over-the-counter medication like Zymox or a prescription-strength cleaner will be beneficial to lessen the recurrence of infection if your dog is prone to outer ear infections.
Additionally, if you regularly clean your dog’s ears, you are more likely to catch an infection in its early stages. Outer ear infections are more common in certain breeds of dogs, including cocker spaniels, retrievers, big-eared dogs, poodles, and other dogs with hair in the ear canal. Be cautious if you possess one of these breeds.
In order to keep the ear canals dry and avoid a yeast infection, it is a good idea to clean and dry your ears after swimming and to insert a cotton plug before taking a bath.
For dog owners, acute and chronic ear infections are a common and annoying issue. Work with your veterinarian to create a healthy routine that will lessen the frequency and severity of these illnesses if they happen more than once or twice a year. It is advised that you keep up with routine cleaning and inspection to assist you to identify infections early.
Because your dog cannot express exactly what is upsetting her, utilize your senses and be alert: 1) Keep an eye out for redness, swelling, and discharge; 2) Feel the ear for heat and thickening; 3) Listen for head shaking and scratching, and 5) Taste – well, let’s not even get there!
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