Dogs' ears, while pretty adorable, are designed in a way that allows for bacteria and water to become trapped. This can lead to serious and painful infections. Here, our vets in San Angelo share some of the signs of dog ear infections, the different types, and what to do when they occur.

The Occurrence of Ear Infections in Dogs

The reason why dogs seem to commonly develop ear infections is simple, it's the shape of their ear canal. If your canine companion loves to swim or has long floppy ears they will be even more susceptible to ear infections since moisture can become trapped in the ear and create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.

The good news is that they can be prevented, and if they develop, they can be treated quickly and easily by your vet. Left untreated ear infections in dogs can develop quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain, and in severe cases facial paralysis.

What are the common causes of ear infections in dogs?

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

There are three types of ear infections seen in dogs depending on where the infection has occurred;

  • Otitis externa or outer ear infection in dogs.
  • Otitis media or middle ear infection in dogs.
  • Otitis interna or inner ear infection in dogs.

There is also the risk of chronic ear infections in dogs which occur when your pup experiences reoccurring infections.

What are the signs of ear infections in dogs?

The symptoms that accompany ear infections can cause some pain for your pup. 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.

Some of the most common symptoms that a dog can experience with ear infections include:

  • 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

In the case of a severe ear infection, your dog may experience the following symptoms:

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

How will your vet treat your dog's ear infection?

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.

As long as it is diagnosed quickly and in the early stages, an ear infection should be easily treated within a few weeks with the proper medication. 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 throughout the pet's lifetime.

Carefully following your veterinarian's instructions will be essential to healing your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.

If your vet schedules a follow-up visit for your dog's ear infection you should make sure to attend as this allows them to make sure that the infection is being properly treated. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there may still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot. Finishing treatment before the infection has fully healed can lead to recurring symptoms that are difficult to treat.

Can ear infections in dogs be prevented?

Our San Angelo vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent your pup from developing an ear infection it is important to keep your pet's ears clean and dry.

Speak to your veterinarian about the best cleaning solution to use for your dog's ears, take the time to gently clean your dog's ears every week, and always dry your dog's ears whenever they come out of the water.

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 pawing at their ear or does it seem especially red? Please reach out to our vets at Western Veterinary Hospital right away to schedule an exam.