So you may be wondering, How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection? Well dogs are prone to ear infections, and some breeds are more susceptible than others. Although canine ear infections are common, pet owners tend to miss them in the early stages. They notice the condition when their dog’s ears are inflamed and itchy, or when their pet is clearly in pain.
Below Is How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection
In this article, we’ll look at what you can do to detect the condition early. We’ll also discuss how you can reduce the chances of an infection, and how to eliminate the need for expensive veterinary treatment. Of course, the most important question you are wanting answered is How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection.
Here are the main points we will cover:
The Types of Ear Infection – and What Causes Them
How to Recognize an Ear Infection
Diagnosis and Treatment Prevention
Types of Ear Infection and Causes
There are two broad classes of ear infection that we’ll discuss in this article. The first type is outer ear infection. In this case, the word “outer” can be confusing. You might get the idea that outer ear infections occur on the ear’s outer surface or on the ear flap. In fact, they occur inside the ear canal, on the outside of the eardrum. This definition includes sections of the ear canal which most pet owners would say are “inside” their pet’s ear.
The other category is middle or inner ear infection. In this case, the infection is on the internal side of the eardrum. This class of infection is less common than outer ear infections. So you may be wondering How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection especially inside of the outer ear.
Outer ear infections can be caused by several factors, including:
- Trauma (injuries).
- A damp environment.
- Excessive wax buildup.
There are 3 common organisms that account for the majority of outer ear infections. They are:
- Cocci bacteria (including Staphylococcus – the same bacteria responsible for “staph” infections in humans).
- Rod bacteria.
If left untreated, an outer ear infection can ultimately lead to an inner or middle ear infection, as invading microorganisms break through the eardrum. But that isn’t the only way an inner ear infection can arise. For instance, injury to the tympanic membrane can open the door to an inner ear infection.
Inner ear infections are often caused by bacteria or yeast, but fungi can also be to blame.
Recognizing an Ear Infection
The visible symptoms of an ear infection are quite easy to recognize. The ear flaps are visibly irritated, turning red. You may notice a discharge or a foul odor. And the dog will be clearly distressed, shaking its head, trying to clean the ear by rubbing it on furniture or a carpet and scratching the affected area.
Sometimes you may notice an irritated area forming on the dog’s cheek – this hot spot is a secondary symptom, caused by excessive scratching.
While these symptoms are easy to recognize, they indicate that the infection has progressed to a fairly advanced stage. And, left untreated, the symptoms will worsen.
As the infection becomes acute, the symptoms will become more pronounced. The ear canal will turn red and may swell up. You may notice small bumps forming in the ear canal. And you will probably notice a thick yellow or brownish discharge – with an accompanying bad smell.
All of the symptoms we’ve covered so far are quite apparent. The early symptoms are much more subtle. For instance, you may notice that your dog is a little more lethargic than usual. Or that he’s holding his head to one side. They’re small signs, easy to miss.
The most severe symptoms indicate a middle ear infection. You may notice:
* Rapid “back and forth” eye movements.
* Walking in circles.
* An inability to chew.
* Pronounced head tilt.
The signs are more serious, and so is the condition. If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, you should take him to the vet immediately. As this is How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection in the correct way.
Diagnosing and Treating Canine Ear Infections
Outer ear infections are easy to diagnose, and they respond rapidly to treatment. The treatment is usually non-invasive – the most common option is an over-the-counter medicated ear drop. The drops contain antibiotics along with a steroid and an anti-fungal agent – to protect against the spread of infection into the inner ear.
Part of the treatment regimen may include carefully cleaning the site of the infection. This is a delicate procedure, and you will need to follow your vet’s instructions to the letter. Untrained carers sometimes cause injuries that make the situation worse; the eardrum is very delicate, and any trauma can make it easy for the infection to spread into the inner ear.
If in doubt, get the vet to do it for you.
If the infection is particularly bad, or the inflammation is unusually severe, your dog may require an extended period of treatment. The vet may also prescribe an oral steroid, which brings immediate relief to the painful and unpleasant symptoms caused by the ear infection.
Often an ear infection is caused by an underlying allergy – if this is the case, the vet may prescribe an additional regimen to treat the allergy. This may involve medication, making environmental or dietary changes, or both.
Inner and middle ear infections are usually more serious, requiring a broad-spectrum antibiotic. In the case of a fungal infection, the vet will prescribe a powerful antifungal agent. In addition, your dog may get a prescription for oral steroids (to address the symptoms).
Since the symptoms of internal ear infections are so severe, they may require special treatments, in addition to addressing the underlying cause. For instance, there are treatments for nausea and anorexia.
In the case of very severe symptoms, your dog may require a brief period of hospitalization, with routine specialist care to help him get over the worst stages of the symptoms.
Preventing Ear Infections
When caught early and treated early, canine ear infections are not a serious cause for concern. But it’s always better to prevent the condition wherever possible. If your dog suffers from frequent outer ear infections (more than one per year) then he may require routine ear cleaning, with over-the-counter medicated drops (eg. Zymox). Or your vet may decide to prescribe a prescription strength cleaner. This being some of the ways of How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection, with much more to come below.
In either case, careful and regular cleaning can help to prevent an infection from forming.
If you make a weekly routine of inspecting your dog’s ears, you stand a better chance of catching an infection early, when it’s easier and cheaper to treat. Learn to use your senses:
* Look for swelling, discharge or redness
* Listen for scratching, head shaking or whining
* Feel the ear to detect swelling or heat
* Smell the ear – a foul or sour smell can indicate an infection
Some breeds require special consideration because they’re more susceptible to ear infections. The breeds at greatest risk include:
- Large-eared hounds.
- Dogs with hairy ear canals.
Yeast infections thrive in damp environments, so drying your dog’s ears after swimming is a must. When you bathe your dog, you can use clean cotton wool to plug the ear canals, keeping them dry and preventing water-borne organisms from gaining a foothold.
If you do plug the ear canals, make sure you follow your vet’s instructions carefully – carelessly inserting a foreign body into the ear canal can cause injuries or infections.
When ear infections become a regular problem, or when they become chronic, it’s almost always a sign that there’s a fundamental problem that should be identified and addressed. Work with your vet to discover what is causing the problem, and be prepared to make sweeping changes to your dog’s routine and environment. When the underlying cause is fixed, endless ear infections can vanish.
Ear infections are a common ailment for dogs, and they can be very uncomfortable for your canine friend. If you learn to detect them early, you can help your dog to recover quickly without pain and discomfort. And you can avoid expensive vet bills, too! Let us know what you thought about our post on How To Treat A Dog Ear Infection in the comments below!