The risk of ear infections is one of the top concerns for dog lovers. These can cause a lot of pain and suffering for your dog, especially if left unattended. To catch an ear infection in its early stages, regular inspection and cleaning are super helpful.
But how do you know exactly what to look for and how to treat symptoms if you see them? That’s exactly what we are going to talk about in this comprehensive guide on dog ear infections.
In this article we will cover:
- Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection
- Diagnosis Process
- Dog Ear Infection Treatment
- Prevention Methods
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection
Unlike people, dog’s can’t tell you when something is wrong. In fact, they prefer not to show their pain at all, in fear that you might abandon them if they are weak. But you can still figure out that your dog has an ear infection. Here are some things you might notice:
- Your dog constantly scratching their ears, sometimes to the point that they look red and raw;
- Walking with their head tilted on one side (that’s usually the infected side);
- Smelly discharge oozing from your dog’s ears
The Diagnosis Process
Your vet will take a number of steps to diagnose the ear infection and figure out what’s causing it. Typically, infections in dogs are caused by yeast, bacteria or ear mites. Knowing the cause, will help both treatment and prevention.
Here are the steps your vet might take:
Your vet will first want to ask a few questions, such as:
- How long has your dog shown the symptoms?
- Does your dog have any allergies?
- How often do you clean your dog’s ears?
- Has your dog participated in any unusual activities recently?
These should give your vet some insight regarding next steps.
After an interview, your vet will perform a general body exam. He or she will check for skin lesions and signs of inhalant allergies to check for problems like seeds or twigs that may have ended up in your dog’s ears.
Then, the vet will closely examine your pet’s ear. He or she will look for crusts, signs of swelling, redness or blood. With a magnifying tool, your vet will also check for foreign objects, dermoids (cysts with ingrown hair), pus, inflammation and any canal wall changes. The doctor will also evaluate the eardrum to make sure there has been no damage. This may be a little uncomfortable for your dog, so keep them calm during these procedures.
3. Microscopic Wax Smear
Following the examination, your vet will then take a small sample of the ear wax and smear it either on a piece of glass or piece of white paper. This helps to identify the presence of ear mites, demodex or pus. It’s quite easy to identify ear mites, since they show up as tiny white specs in the ear wax. The other two are slightly more complex and would require more testing.
Once the vet is certain your dog is suffering from an infection and believe that bacteria is to blame – they will test to see if it is gram positive or negative. It is hard to explain the difference between the two without getting quite technical, but different antibiotics work better for each.
For this, your vet will conduct what is called a bacteria cytology. He or she will stain a sample of the ear wax, which will show whether the bacteria is round (cocci) or if it’s straight (rod). Again, the essence of this is to identify the kind of medication that would work best for your dog.
5. Food Trial
In some cases, frequent ear inflammation and infections in a dog can be caused by food allergies that you might not be aware off. In such cases, if the vet thinks it is necessary, they might recommend a food therapy.
Once your vet has completed all of the testing, they should have a clearer picture about your dog’s ear infection. He or she will then prescribe the most trusted treatment method for your pet.
Dog Ear Infection Treatment
There is a number of treatment options that the vet can recommend depending on the severity of the infection. Normally, you’ll follow these or similar steps:
Step 1: Typically, the first step would be to clean out the dog’s ear with a gentle and soothing ear cleaner like EcoEars. EcoEars is not only great for cleaning, it is also a solid method to prevent and treat dog ear infections. The solution is highly effective – works in 94% of the cases. It is advisable to use the cleaner on a regular basis, even after your pet has recovered.
Step 2: In some cases, medication might be necessary, but usually only for severe dog ear infections. Your vet will prescribe the meds based on the diagnosis. These might be oral antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, or anti-yeast treatment.
Step 3: If your dog is constantly scratching, the vet might also prescribe a small dose of antihistamine to help make your pet more comfortable and reduce scratching.
Step 4: Other than making sure that your dog’s ear infection goes away, you’ll also have to keep rechecking to make sure that it doesn’t come back. Take a look at the next section to learn about preventing dog ear infections.
As with most diseases, prevention is always the best option. With the right information and tools, you can greatly reduce the chances of your beloved dog suffering from ear infections.
#1 Regular Cleaning
The first and perhaps the most useful way to prevent ear infections is regular cleaning. Not only does this keep the ears clean, it also helps to get rid of accumulation of yeast and bad bacteria. Learn about the Top 5 Reasons to Clean Your Dog’s Ears.
#2 Use Proper Ear Cleaning Tools
While it is important to clean your dog’s ears, it is even more important to make sure that you use the right tools. First, you need a gentle yet effective dog ear cleaner, like EcoEars. You also need to know that Q-tips are only good for cleaning the folds on the dog’s ear flap. It is not safe to stick them in the ear canal. For more tips, check out our blog on How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears and the Tools You’ll Need.
#3 Dry Your Dog’s Ears
If your dog is a swimmer, chances are, most of their ear infections are going to be caused by yeast build-up; especially if he has long droopy ears. Whether it’s a regular bath or after a swimming session, you have to make sure that you properly dry the dog’s ears. During baths, you can also place cotton balls in the dog’s ears to prevent water from getting in the ear canal.
#4 Watch the Diet
Some ear infections are caused by certain foods, which your dog might be allergic to. It is important to identify such foods or components and keep them out of the dog’s diet. In some cases, you might try to substitute this for something different that is safer for the dog. Natural, raw or minimally processed foods can be very helpful in combating ear problems in your dogs. Such a diet helps to boost the dog’s immune system and helps to regain strength.
#5 Avoid Using Drying Agents
Drying agents help keep your dog’s ears dry. But, when used regularly, these agents can dry the ear too much especially when there is no problem. Also, they can cover up an infection making it harder to detect. You’re better off with gauze and cotton balls. They are harder to use but ensure your pet friend is safer and healthier.
We hope that this guide will help you take the myth out of dog ear infections. And if you are still unsure about something, let us know! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly help you out with any dog ear infection questions you might have!