Dog Ear Infections

Dogs get ear infections just like people do.  And, just as with people, such ear infections can become serious and result in the loss of hearing out of that ear if not treated.

Symptoms of ear infections range from rubbing the ear vigorously, to shaking the head.  They can also include an odor coming from the ear and green pus coming out.  In severe cases, the dog may show difficulty walking in a straight line and may bang into furniture and walls.  This means his vestibular system is involved in the infection.

Treating the dog will require a trip to the veterinarian.  The veterinarian will take a sample of the material in the dog’s ear and look at it in the microscope to determine what organism is causing the problem.  The most common causes are mites in puppies and bacteria or yeast in adult dogs.  Reasons for ear infections range from a foreign body in the ear to allergies.  Dogs with allergies are predisposed for ear infections.  Some dogs, such as Poodles, must have the hair in their ears removed as part of their grooming or they get ear infections.  Dogs with pendulous ears are also prone to infections because the ear stays moist and has poor air circulation.

Once the dog has the ear infection, you must do two things:  clean the ear and introduce the medicine the veterinarian has given you to treat the dog.  Cleaning the ear can be tricky because it is raw and sore and the dog may object, sometimes vigorously.  The best thing to do is use a solution intended to clean dog ears.  Pour a little in the ear canal and insert a cotton ball as a stopper.  Gently massage the solution in the ear so the debris is washed away..  Remove the cotton ball and let the now dirty solution drain.  Do not use q-tips or other cotton swabs to clean he ear as you might push debris deeper in the ear or even puncture the eardrum.  Once the ear is clean, then you put the drops or ointment the veterinarian gave you into the ear.

For some dogs, anesthesia may be required to do the initial ear cleaning and treatment because of the pain it causes the infected ear.  Always let the veterinarian determine whether the ear is infected and whether the dog must be anesthetized in order to treat it.

To prevent ear infections, clean the ears once a week with a solution intended to clean dog ears.  Use it as described above and your dog will get fewer of these painful and annoying infections.  In addition, if your dog is allergic to certain things, avoiding those things will reduce the incidence of ear infections in your dog.  When your dog has been swimming it is wise to clean the ears with the dog ear solution to help dry it out and make sure no debris entered the ear during the swim.  Cleaning the ears should also be part of the dog’s grooming routine to dry them after the dog has been bathed.