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Dog Ear Infections

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Dog Ear Infections (Canine Ear Inflammation and Infection)

Signs and Symptoms


Ear infections, or otitis, can cause a great deal of pain, discomfort, and stress for your dog. These infections involve inflammation of the ears and can vary in severity. If your dog is suffering from such an infection, it will likely display a number of signs and symptoms. Most dogs with an ear infection will shake their head and ears. They also tend to scratch and paw at their ears or rub the sides of their head on the ground, furniture, or other objects. Infected ears also tend to become smelly and sometimes release an odorous discharge that is either yellowish or black in colour. Sometimes redness and swelling of the ear flap and canal can be observed on an afflicted animal. These are all common signs of a dog ear infection and canines with varying degrees of such infections will display these symptoms and behaviors.

When ear infections become more severe, other warning signs may also be present. If an infection moves from the outer ear to the inner ear, it can then affect your dog's ability to hear. Unfortunately, sometimes Dog Deafness will result. If your dog seems to have more difficulty hearing you or noises in the environment than is usual, this could be a sign that your pet is suffering from a serious ear infection. Furthermore, sometimes the nerves located in the inner ear become affected by the infection. When this happens, your pet may feel dizzy. When dogs are dizzy they often become disoriented, tilt their heads, and walk in circles. In addition, when the nerves of the inner ear are affected a dog may begin to exhibit what is known as nystagmus, or unusual eye movements.

All of the above symptoms and behaviors are telltale signs that your dog could be suffering from an ear infection. However, there are different types of these infections and they range in severity. It is, therefore, unwise to try and diagnose and treat your pet's problem on your own. By consulting a qualified veterinarian, you will be helping your dog to quickly overcome the pain and suffering caused by ear infections and to hopefully prevent any permanent damage, such as hearing loss. So if your pet is exhibiting one or more of the above warning signs, ensure that he or she is examined by a veterinary doctor immediately.


Use of the Otoscope

Veterinarians generally diagnose dog ear infections with the use of an otoscope. This tool magnifies objects and allows medical practitioners to get a good look at what's going on inside the ear canal. A veterinarian will take into account the various behaviors and symptoms displayed by the canine patient, as well as the actual appearance of the ear itself. An infected ear will generally have a deep red, inflamed appearance. Also, discharge may be visible inside the ear, further suggesting the presence of an infection. Since many of these signs and symptoms can be caused by an infestation of ear mites, a veterinary doctor will also conduct an examination that will either confirm or rule out the presence of such pesky insects.

When examining your dog, a veterinarian will most likely pull slightly on the ear being checked in order to straighten out the ear canal and get a better view of the potentially affected area. This will allow the doctor to take a look at the canine's eardrum to see if there is any fluid or pus located behind it, which would indicate an infection of the middle ear. A professional will not only diagnose whether or not an ear infection is present, but in cases where there is indeed an infection, the veterinarian will also determine the specific type of ear infection. This is important because different types of ear infections require different courses of treatment. As a result, examination by a veterinary doctor will allow for the most proper and effective treatment option to be chosen for your pet.


Otitis is basically an inflammation of the ear. This can occur in the outer part of the ear canal (otitis externa) and in the middle section of the ear (otitis media). While otitis media is significantly less common than otitis externa, it is also much more severe. A dog's ears, as with the rest of a dog's body, are normally home to a small number of bacteria and yeast cells. When these cells are present in their regular numbers, they tend not to cause any problems. However, when these cells become more numerous, an infection may result. An infection will also occur if these cells are replaced by disease-causing, pathogenic organisms. When these abnormal cells or abnormal numbers of cells are present, they cause irritation and inflammation of the surrounding tissue. Such an infection can become progressively worse if not promptly and properly treated, and can travel to other parts of the ear.


As mentioned previously, dog ear infections can be caused by unusually high numbers of bacteria and yeast cells or by the introduction of foreign organisms into the ear. This can happen in a number of ways. For example, dogs that swim are often exposed to foreign objects in the water and are prone to developing bacterial infections in their ears. Yeast infections, on the other hand, are common in dogs with a large buildup of earwax. Humid climates and overzealous ear cleaning can also increase your dog's risk of developing otitis.

Some canines are more likely than others to experience ear infections for a number of different reasons. Endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism, for example, may increase a dog's chances of developing otitis. This is also true of chronic respiratory conditions which weaken the immune system and make an animal more susceptible to other problems.

Furthermore, dogs with allergies tend to suffer from ear infections more frequently than those without allergies. Allergies tend to predispose a dog to developing otitis because they often cause changes and symptoms in the ears which can increase the likelihood of an infection taking hold in the area. As opposed to human allergies, dog allergies tend to cause inflammation and heat in and around the ears. Unfortunately, these conditions help to promote abnormal yeast growth and can thus lead to chronic otitis. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to develop ear infections for this reason than others. Some of the more susceptible breeds in this regard include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Schnauzers, and West Highland Terriers.

Ear infection in an American Cocker Spaniel

There are also certain characteristics of dog ears and the surrounding areas that make a canine more susceptible to ear infections. One of these characteristics has to do with the particular type of skin or glands located in the ear canal. Dog breeds that most typically suffer from otitis for this reason include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Labradors, and Springer Spaniels. Furthermore, some dogs are genetically predisposed to otitis because of the type and amount of hair present in the ear canal. The more hair present in the ear canal, the poorer the airflow. In turn, poor airflow leads to increased incidence of infection. Again, there are certain types of breeds that develop ear infections for this reason more often than others. These breeds include Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese, and Poodles. As result, dog ear infections are typically caused by abnormal amounts of yeast or bacteria, or by the presence of foreign, pathogenic organisms. However, these cells and organisms can develop or be introduced in a number of different ways and tend to affect some dogs more than others.


The type of treatment required to fight a particular dog ear infection will depend upon the type and location of the infection. Often, however, treatment will be in the form of medicinal drops or ointments which will need to be administered over a period of time. It's very important to continue the treatment for the prescribed length of time in order to effectively clear up and put an end to the infection.

When an underlying condition is causing the development of ear infections in an animal, that condition will also need to be treated in the proper fashion. This will help to control and prevent future incidents of otitis. If foreign bodies or parasites are present in the ear and are the cause of the infection, these may have to be removed while the dog is under sedation. Sedation may also be required if a thorough cleaning and flushing of the canine patient's ears is needed.

In addition, there are certain homeopathic remedies available that can help to alleviate your dog's painful and irritating symptoms. These products often include natural ingredients such as Tea Tree oil, chamomile, marigold, and myrrh. These substances have many properties that are beneficial to animals when suffering from pain, irritation, and inflammation. For example, the above named ingredients exhibit soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Some also provide a form of topical pain relief, while others are known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties that help to control and prevent the spread of infections. Many homeopathic products contain a combination of these natural herbs and substances in order to achieve the best possible results and the most effective relief for your pet. As result, there are a number of different treatment steps and options available to help you and your pet deal with ear infections. However, no course of treatment should be pursued without first consulting a qualified veterinarian.


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