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Ear Infections in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Ear Infections in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Ear infections are a common complaint seen by our Parrish vets. Most dog ear infections are easy to treat if diagnosed early. Here are some signs that your pup might have an ear infection and what you should do.

Your Pup's Ears

Due to the shape of their ear canals dogs tend to be more susceptible to ear infections than people. This is especially true if your dog spends a lot of time in the water or has long, floppy, ears. This is because moisture can become more easily trapped in the ear and create an ideal environment for bacteria or yeast to thrive. 

By taking a little extra care with your dog's ears you can help to prevent your pup from developing an ear infection. If your dog does get an infection, seeing the vet as soon as possible is important—infections are much easier to treat when caught early. Left untreated ear infections in dogs can worsen quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain, and in severe cases facial paralysis.

Causes of Dog Ear Infections

Bacteria is the most common cause of ear infections in dogs, however, yeast, fungus and ear mites can all cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Some other causes of dog ear infections include foreign objects lodged in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.

Ear infections in dogs are classified in three ways, depending on where the infection is located:

  • Otitis external (outer ear infections)
  • Otitis media (middle ear infections)
  • Otitis interna (inner ear infections)

Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs

Ear infections can be very painful or uncomfortable for your pooch. If your dog shows any of the following signs of an ear infection contact your veterinarian immediately to book an examination for your pet. Early treatment of ear infections can help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing and reduce the chances of complications.

If your pup is suffering from an ear infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pawing or rubbing at the ear
  • Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
  • Odor in the ear
  • Redness inside of the ear
  • Head shaking
  • Tilting head
  • Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
  • Swelling of the ear

With severe ear infections in dogs, you may notice other symptoms such as:

  • Indications of hearing loss
  • Loss coordination or balance
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Walking in circles

Treatment for Ear Infections in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection your vet will take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your pet'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, an uncomplicated 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 or repeated ear infections over the course of the pet's lifetime.

Carefully following your veterinarian's instructions will be essential to clear up your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. You should always finish your dog's entire prescription, even if they seem to be back to normal. 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 for dog ear infections. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there may still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting an Ear Infection

Prevention is the best protection when it comes to your pup's ears. Always be sure to thoroughly dry your dog's ears any time they have been in the water. You can also speak with your vet about the best cleaning solution to use for your dog's ears and take the time to gently clean them every week. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of an ear infection? Contact our Parrish vets today to book an examination. 

New Patients Welcome

Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (941) 776-1100