Ear infections are a common, yet painful condition that can affect our canine companions. In order to prevent complications it is important to have them treated at the first signs. But how can you tell that your dog might have an ear infection? Our Nashua vets explain.
How do ear infections in dogs develop?
While dog ears are adorable and serve their intended purpose, their shape can also cause issues such as ear infections. If your dog swims a lot or has long floppy ears they will be even more prone to ear infections since moisture can become trapped in the ear and create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
With a little extra care and attention, you can help prevent your pup from developing serious ear infections.
If your pup does get an infection, by seeing a vet early there's a good chance that it can be cleared up quickly and easily. 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.
Severe, Bacterial and Other Ear Infections in Dogs
Bacteria is the number one cause of ear infections in dogs, but, yeast, fungus and ear mites can all cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Some other causes of dog ear infections include foreign objects lodged in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.
Your dog could experience one of 3 main categories of ear infection. Each category is named for the location within the ear where the infection has taken hold:
- Outer ear infection (otitis externa)
- Middle ear infection (otitis media)
- Inner ear infection (otitis interna)
What are the symptoms of ear infections in dogs?
Ear infections can be very painful for your four-legged friend. 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.
If your dog has an ear infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- 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
If your dog's ear infection is more severe you may notice additional symptoms such as:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
What are the treatment options for ear infections in dogs?
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.
When ear infections are diagnosed and treated in the early stages, an uncomplicated ear infection will typically clear up within just a week or two. 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. Unfortunately, more severe cases can result in chronic ear infections in dogs or repeated ear infections over the course of the pet's lifetime.
Following your veterinarian's instructions very carefully will be essential to clear up 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.
Follow-up appointments with your vet are highly recommended when it comes to dog ear infections. 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.
How can you help prevent ear infections in dogs?
At Animal Hospital of Nashua our 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 vet 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.