Ear Infections on Dogs.

Sadly, ear infections are common on dogs. They can be very painful and irritating to the dog and need to be treated with veterinary care. Some breeds of dogs are more likely to get ear infections and there are things that can be done to help prevent ear infections. Untreated ear infections can cause more serious infections to develop, the ear canal to become permanently swollen or the infection to spread across the ear drum into the middle ear.

The signs that a dog has an ear infection can be some or all of the following; a smelly discharge coming from the ear, scratching at the ear, rubbing the ear, shaking the head, crying when the ear is rubbed. 

The cause of an ear infection is often associated with a skin allergy (the inside of the ear is an extension of the skin), and this can be made worse in dogs with long, straight ear canals (German Shepherd) or floppy ears (Cocker Spaniel) or very hairy ear canals (poodles and cavoodles). Ear infections can also be caused by a foreign body like a grass seed in the ear, a growth or polyp in the ear or excessively wet ears.

Ear infections are checked by the vet to work out the best treatment plan. It is important to rule out a foreign body or growth in the ear first. If this is not the case a swab from the ear can let the vet know what organism is causing the infection and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.

Because the underlying cause of the ear infection is often allergies or the shape the ears, the problem becomes recurrent without preventative care. Cleaning the ears regularly with an appropriate ear cleaner and treating skin allergies are very important and in breeds with hair growing in the ear canal they may need to be plucked regularly.

Dogs have a very long ear canal and any cleaning or treatments need to go deep into the ear to be effective. Never use cotton tips the clean the ears as this will push infection and debris deeper into the canal, instead use a cleaner and then massage the ear and let the dog shake his head, then wipe away any discharge from the top of the ear canal.