Dog ear infections are the most common health issues for canines today. They are the most frustrating infections because they usually re-occur. These conditions are especially common in dogs with floppy ears, for example, Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds, and they can make the life of your dog hell. Recent research shows that, 20% of dogs have ear infections.
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections
Ear canals are very sensitive, so the signs of infection are outright, they include:
There are inevitable signs that show if a dog has these infections e.g. if your dog whines when you touch them or if they paw at their ears. The ears are the best place for all sorts of harmful organisms, and that’s why you should take your dog to the vet regularly. This infection is commonly known as “otitis” but is not a specific disease but a side effect of many things that cause an infection in the ear. Dog ear infections are of three types, which are determined by the part of the dog’s ear that is infected. The three types are;
Otitis externa is typically identified by redness or swelling on the outer ear of your dog and the exterior part of the ear canal. This infection is commonly caused by trapped water in the ear canal. The moist surrounding is ideal for bacteria to multiply. It usually causes painful inflammation. If left untreated, it can spread to your dog’s bone and the other parts of the ear.
Affecting the outer part of the ear, it is the most uncomplicated infection to treat. A colored discharge with a foul odor characterizes the infection.
Otitis media is inflammation, which affects the middle part of your dog’s ear. It is usually diagnosed with swelling and effusion in the middle of the ear with no bacterial or viral infections. The infection can also be caused by dysfunction or noninfectious obstruction of the Eustachian tubes. The fluid buildup is usually located behind the eardrum of your dog’s ear.
As suggested by the name, Otitis Interna is an inflammation that is located in the inner part of your dog’s ear. This condition is commonly known as labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis. Located in the inner part of the ear, it is the most severe ear infection. It is the most complex infection to treat. The inner part of the ear connects with other sensitive body parts such nerves responsible for balance and hearing. But in some instances, it causes permanent hearing loss.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
There are several causes of ear infections in canines. Floppy ears, swimming, moisture, dirt, or hair in the ear canal are the main factors that lead to ear infections. But these are not the only reasons for ear infections. These factors increase the chances of your dog being infected, but there are several other ways your dog can be infected.
Here are a few known causes of dog ear infections.
Bacterial infections are the primary type of diseases of the dog’s ear. Your dog shelters several beneficial bacteria that are meant to keep pathogenic bacteria in check. Any imbalances in this symbiotic relationship can cause bacterial infections.
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus commonly reside in your dog’s ear. In most cases, the bacteria overgrow, leading to the distress of your dog. Being an excellent residential place, floppy dog ears are more prone to such infections. Other bacteria that can get to your dog from contaminated water bodies weaken the immune system of your dog, making them vulnerable to different infections.
Proteus mirabilis infections are another common bacterial infection in dog ears. This bacteria is often found in the intestines of dogs and human beings. They can, however, manifest themselves in the dog’s ears, causing discomfort. Bacterial infections call for help from a certified veterinarian.
Fungi and Yeast
Fungi are also regular occupants in your dog’s ear. The fungi commonly live together with bacteria in the microbiome. If left untreated, the fungi can grow uncontrollably jeopardizing the earing of your dog. A weakened immune system of your dog is usually the leading cause of overgrowing of fungi.
More often than not, ear infections are the result of immune dysfunction, for instance, allergies, hormone imbalances, or hypothyroidism. One infection isn’t a cause for concern. If your dog suffers from recurring ear infections, you need to focus on the immune health, or you won’t stop visiting your vet.
Depending on the root cause of the ear infection, you can quickly treat the infections using different remedies. To spot an ear infection, your veterinarian will take a comprehensive history and do a complete physical exam of your dog. They will do a careful examination of the ears by using an otoscope to see inside the ear canal. Other tests or procedures may be done for an accurate diagnosis if the otoscope examination is not enough.
Other additional tests your veterinarian may consider include:
Treatment of ear infections can be very complicated, especially if allergies are the leading cause. Treatment is determined by the origin, nature, and relentlessness of the ear infection. Your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment for your dog’s specific condition. Treatment may include:
Just like any other disease, prevention of dog’s ear infection is better than cure. The following are measures you can take to help prevent new or recurring infections. Avoid moisture in your dog’s ears
Tony is the owner of Petpetbuy.com, the pet-parent of two dogs, and he is also an active animal rescuer. He works with multiple non-governmental organisations which work towards providing aid to homeless dogs and cats.