Dog’s ears come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. However, their ears serve a bigger and much more important part than how they look. Your dog’s ears allow them to have distinct and crystal clear hearing and give them the ability to balance and work with gravity.
Dogs sometimes face challenges with their ears as dog ears have the characteristics of being deep, dark, warm and moist. This makes it an ideal environment for bacteria, yeast and viral infections to live and grow in.
This can cause health issues, pain, and discomfort.
With this detailed guide about ear infections, you will have the knowledge and the tools you need to make sure that your loving furry pet will have healthy ears that are problem free.
What are Ear Infections?
An ear infection is most commonly a bacterial, viral or yeast infection of the inner or outer ear.
They are no fun as they can be extremely painful and cause a lot of discomfort. This is because of inflammation and fluid buildup in the ear.
Dogs are easily prone to develop ear infections because of the shape of the ears. Also, the ear canal is a vertical shape which makes it easy for bacteria and other things to get into their ears; therefore, causing uncomfortable ear infections in your dog.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Unfortunately, there is not one thing that causes ear infections, but multiple things that can promote this uncomfortable state for your dogs. Because there is not one cause it is important to visit your veterinarian and seek their knowledge to find the root cause before choosing treatment for your dog.
Here is a list of a number of things that may be the source of an ear infection in your loving furry pet.
Allergies: Allergies may occur in your dog based on something they have eaten, breathed in or even touched. As a result of one of the side effects from any form of allergy it can cause an ear infection.
With allergies it is important to find out what exactly your dog is allergic to; therefore, you can help stop the re-occurrence of ear infections in your dog.
Ear Mites: Ear mites love being in an environment where it is warm, moist and dark, which is why your dog’s ears make it an ideal location.
However, some dogs may be allergic to these creatures or find them irritating. This can cause them to itch and scratch their ear, which cause trauma and infections that can be the leading cause to ear infections.
Luckily for dogs, ear mites are less of an issue in dogs and more so with cats.
Bacteria and Yeast: There are no particular bacteria or yeast that can cause the development of an ear infection, but there are a number of different kinds. Usually, your dog’s immune system can fight off bacteria and yeast to help avoid and destroy an ear infection.
However, due to allergies, a cold, or even a change in the environment can make your dog’s immune system weaker. As a result bacteria and yeast can grow in the ear causing an infection.
Trauma: When your dog is excessively scratching their ears it can cause irritation and lead to an ear infection. Even prior injuries or surgeries can make your dog more prone to develop ear infections for frequently compared to other dogs.
Hormonal: In some situations having too many hormones or hormones not acting in the correct manner can cause skin and ear problems. As a result, even in some circumstances can cause your dog to develop ear infections.
The Environment: Your dog’s ears are warm, dark, deep and moist which makes it the perfect home for bacteria and yeast to live and grow in. This can cause your dog to develop a serious ear infection.
Too Much Water: Numerous and frequent bathing and swimming can cause ear infections in your dog. As a dog’s ear canal faces downwards it makes it difficult for water to escape.
Instead, it sits in the air causing ear infections and more prone for bacteria to grow and develop.
Heredity: Sometimes ear infections are just heredity. This means that because of your dogs breed and genetic genes they are just more prone towards developing ear infections.
Floppy Ears: Dogs with floppy ears are more likely to face more problems with ear infections and other ear related problems.
Having long ears will prevent circulation which will not allow evaporation and as a result make the ears more moist. This makes it a perfect environment for bacteria to grow in causing ear infections.
What are the Symptoms for an Ear Infection?
As a pet owner, you can look for signs and symptoms to help you determine if your dog is experiencing an ear infection.
If you suspect your dog has an ear infection it is then important to book an appointment with the veterinarian to discover the right approach to stop the symptoms and cure the ear infection.
Here is a list of symptoms that may occur as a result of an ear infection:
- Smell of an unpleasant odor
- Consistent scratching and rubbing of the ears
- Discharge in the ears (dark and crumbly material)
- Redness or swelling, in and around the ear
- Shaking or tilting of the head
- Pain around the ears
- Change in behavior
- Hair loss
- Loss of balance
- Unusual eye movement
- Hearing loss
Are There Different Kinds of Ear Infections?
The two most common types of ear infections are called Otitis Medis and Otitis Externa.
Otitis Medis affects the inner part of the ear and Otitis Externa affects the outer ear canal.
In both types of ear infections, you will see inflammation caused by the bacteria. Both can be treated with the assistance of your veterinarian.
How Are Ear Infections Diagnosed?
With regards to diagnosing the ear infection, your veterinarian will use a number of different techniques and use the common symptoms to help him or her detect the root cause.
Here are a few ways that your veterinarian will diagnose an ear infection:
- Will look into the ear canal and into the ear drum
- A sample of the ear discharge to look for bacteria, yeast or parasites
- If the veterinarian thinks that bacteria may be causing the infection, then a sample will be given to the lab to find out the specific bacteria
- If an ear infection is extremely painful than your dog may be put to sleep during the diagnosing process
- Blood work and allergy testing
- Swabs of the debris in the ear
- Food trails to find out what your dog is allergic to
- Skin scrapings to rule out different kinds of diseases
What are the Treatments for Ear Infections?
There is no one specific treatment that is used for treating ear infections. This is because there are a number of reasons why an ear infection occurs and, therefore, the treatment that may be taken will depend on that.
If allergies are the root cause of an ear infection in your dog than finding the root cause and avoiding that thing and/or material will be the most effective way.
Also using ear cleaning solutions, antihistamines, and fatty acid supplements will help with ear infections.
If the cause of the ear infection is ear mites than ear cleaning solutions and medications can be used to kill the mites and help with the ear infection. You can usually determine if mites are a problem because you will see dark, dry and crumbly material.
If the problem is yeast which is creating the ear infection than you will see a brown and wax like material which also has a bad smell. In this case, ear cleansers are used to kill the bacteria and medication that is given from your veterinarian will help with this issue.
If the cause is from bacteria than ear cleaning can help, but your dog would usually need antibiotics to fix the problem. There is usually a smelly odor and a yellow color if the ear infection is caused by bacteria.
How Do You Prevent Ear Infections?
As a pet owner, you can use simple and effective techniques to help make sure that your dog does not get ear infections.
Just follow some of these simple tips below:
Frequently make sure that the ears are clean:
- Check the ears regularly to see if there is abnormal discharge, color, odor, redness and/or inflammation
- Clip and/or remove excess hair around the ear
- Make sure you take your dog for regular veterinarian check-ups
- Avoid allergies and/or treat allergies using Pet Meds
- After baths and/or swims make sure you dry your dog’s ears
Which Dogs are more likely to have Ear Infections?
Certain dogs that have distinct physical characteristics may be more likely to develop ear infections. For example, dogs with certain allergies can have an ear infection as one of the many symptoms and dogs with non-erect outer ears.
If your dogs have a lot of hair growth in and around the ear canal it can also cause ear infections.
Schnauzers are more common to face the issue of excessive hair growth in the ear.
Also, dogs that have floppy ears have more frequent and common issues with ear infections and other ear problems. Some of these dogs include Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles.
Dog Ear Cleaning . . . How is it Done?
One of the most effective ways to help your dog avoid ear infections is creating a regular routine to make sure you take the time to clean your dog’s ears.
Here is a quick guide to making sure you know the right way to keep your dog’s ears clean. If you are still unsure you can always seek guidance and advice from your veterinarian.
What are the necessary dog ear cleaning supplies?
- Ear cleaning solution (make sure you ask your veterinarian what they recommend and avoid the solutions that have alcohol or hydrogen peroxide)
- Have a supply of cotton balls or pads or gauzes available at home
- Tweezers or another hair removing tool
How Do You Start With This Process?
- Make sure you have space like a bathtub
- Perfect time to clean your dog ears is before you give them a bath
- Inspect the ears before cleaning
- If you discover something abnormal check with your veterinarian before proceeding
- Check how dirty and if there is a lot of hair in the ear
- If a lot of hair make sure you remove it
How Do You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
- Hold your dog’s ears upwards
- Put a few drops of ear cleanser inside of the flap and near the opening of the ear
- Massage the base of the ear for a few minutes
- Allow your dog to shake the solution off
- Use cotton balls and your finger to wipe out and dry the ear canal
- If still dirty repeat process until clean
Interesting Facts about Your Dog’s Ears!
Have you wondered why dogs have these distinct and sometimes large ears? Or why your veterinarian and other pet owners make sure that their dog’s ears are healthy and are at its optimal level?
Well, there are many interesting and important reasons why. That’s why we put together a list that outlines some of the many reasons why your dog’s ears are so interesting and fascinating.
- Ears can represent different levels of awareness. For instance, an erect ear facing forward means your dog is engaged, pulled back ears means that they are friendly and laid back ears mean that they are fearful.
- Dog’s ears are five times better than humans when it comes to hearing and sounds.
- Erect ears act as an amplifier for incoming sounds.
- Dogs have twice as many muscles in their ears compared to humans.
- Dogs use their ear muscles to help display 100 different kinds of facial expressions.
- Silence and late nights are actually noisy for dogs. As they can hear bodily vibrations through the walls and doors.
- Dog’s ears can move independently from each other.
- Ears help dogs create and maintain balance.
It is important not to assume causes for ear infections or assume that your dog has ear infections and treat it based on your own assumptions. This is why it is important to understand that the information provided should not be used as a replacement for medical advice from your veterinarian.