Dog Ear Infection Symptoms and Treatment
Guide To Dog Ear Infection Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Table of Contents Overview | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Q&A | Brochures Summary:
“Dog ear infections can be infuriatingly difficult to treat and account for 20% of visits to the veterinarian. They are more easily treated if caught early as an otitis externa or outer ear problem.
Look for telltale signs such as dogs that scratch or paw at the ears and head shaking. Skin irritation and itch may or may not be present. Other signs include ears that cause pain to the dog when touched or inflammation inside the ear. Dogs that continually scratch the ear can cause a more serious problem which results in the rupturing of the tympanic membrane.
Common causes of dog ear infection are water trapped in the ear, foreign material (grass awns), yeast, atopy (inhaled seasonal allergy), hypersensitivity to foods, bacteria, immune mediated or autoimmune diseases (pemphigus foliaceus) or mites (Otodectes and Demodex). Ear infections are not caught from another pet.
Treatment depends on the underlying condition and should be in consultation with a veterinarian. If caught early, ear infections in dogs can be easily treated. Treatment options range from prescription antibiotics or anti-fungal agents, ear cleansers and natural ear drops. Veterinarians often add a glucocorticoid such as prednisone, which can help reduce inflammation and improve the speed of healing. Do not apply any cleanser or treatment before speaking to a veterinarian and avoid alcohol based products, as these can be irritating.”
For prevention, all dogs should have canine ear hair plucked on a regular basis, particularly those breeds that are susceptible to a dog ear infection.” Cocker Spaniel with Otitis (Ear Infection) Photo Credit: Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine Overview
Ear infections are one of the most common and frustrating problems dealt with by dog owners and veterinarians. Ear infections are usually very treatable if caught and addressed early, so it is beneficial for dog owners to be aware of the common signs of ear infections, as well as treatment and prevention.
A dog ear infection, otherwise known as otitis externa (inflammation of the ear canal), or just otitis, occurs when a pathogen invades the tissue of the external ear canal and causes an infection. The pathogen involved can be either yeast or a bacterial organism. Otitis occurs in any breed of dog during any season, but is more common in the spring and summer months. Otitis is often associated with allergic conditions, such as atopy and food allergy. Sometimes the otitis will be accompanied by itchy or irritated skin, but many times it is not. In fact, in many cases of food allergy chronic otitis is the only abnormal sign the dog displays. Anatomy Model of Dog Ear Anatomy. Only A Veterinarian Should Use A Cotton Tipped Applicator. For Safety, Hold The Applicator So That Only An Inch of It Can Be Inserted.
Dog ears are structured differently than human ears making them more susceptible to ear infection. In humans the ear canal travels horizontally whereas in a dog the canal moves from the outer ear vertically downward before make a turn toward the ear drum. This turn makes it easier to collect debris, dirt and wax, allowing bacteria to colonize and take hold as an infection. Types of Ear Infections
There are three main types of ear infections and each requires different type of treatment. Dog Ear Mites Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis): This is the most common type of ear infection. Usually both ears are affected. To treat it, the ears are first cleaned thoroughly. Then a medication such as ivermectin is massaged into the ear. A second treatment may be performed in two to four weeks, just to make sure all the mites have been killed.It is generally recommended that all pets in the home be treated at the same time. You may also want to clean the rooms where you dog lives to make sure that no mites remain and then cause reinfection. A good choice for indoor mite removal is Benzarid. They also sell a power steam cleaner for effective outdoor mite removal. Secondary infections in dogs with ear mites are common and generally involve bacteria or yeasts. Bacterial or fungal/yeast ear infections : These are usually simple, first time dog ear infections. In this case the ear tissue is normal except for being a little irritated. One or both ears may be affected. These respond readily to treatments for dog ear infections. The affected ear is cleaned daily. The cleanser may contain a topical steroid to reduce inflammation and/or an antibiotic to fight infection. Oral antibiotics may also be given, particularly if your dog has a fever, which would indicate a bacterial infection. Avoid alcohol based products. See your veterinarian at the first sign of an ear infection since early detection results in a faster and better result. Swimming Chronic, repeat ear infections
The ear tissue becomes thicker, spongier, and more productive (produces more wax and other discharge). These infections improve with treatment but keep coming back. Both ears are usually affected. These are most common in dogs with pendulous ears like cocker spaniels and basset hounds.
When there are repeat dog ear infections, it’s often due to allergies. There are mast cells concentrated in the dog’s ear canals, just like the mast cells in humans’ respiratory tracts. These mast cells produce histamines and other inflammatory chemicals in response to allergens. When these chemicals are released in the ears, they stimulate the production of excess ear wax and other secretions.
The waxy, gooey ears provide an ideal place for skin bacteria to grow. They also attract yeast spores. To treat these infections, it is necessary to deal with the underlying allergies, the bacterial infection, and the yeast infection. Predisposing and Perpetuating Factors
Certain breeds are predisposed to developing dog ear infections, but any breed can be affected due to these related problems. Eliminating these factors do not mean that a dog will never have another ear problem . Breeds with Excessive Hair that has been plucked (iatrogenic trauma): Poodles English sheepdog, Airedale terrier Anatomical Factors such as breeds with pendulous ears: Cocker spaniel, Labrador Retriever Narrow ear canals or folded ears: Shar-pei Moisture in the ears from swimming or high humidity environment Under treatment due to a lower dose of medications than is needed when treated or the length of treatment is too short Presence of bacteria or Malassezia pachydermatis (yeast) Infection that progresses to the middle ear (Otitis media) Otitis Externa (Dog Ear Infection) In a Chocolate Labrador Dogs with pendulous ears are more susceptible to Ear Infection.Scratching and head tilting are two of the symptoms. Photo Credit: Washington State University, School of Veterinary Medicine Symptoms
It is usually fairly easy to tell when a pet is experiencing the onset of an external dog ear infection. The classic signs of otitis are head-shaking, face rubbing on furniture, shaking or tilting the head, pawing or scratching at the ears, and reddened/inflamed ears with discharge or abnormal debris present in the canal. Dogs with chronic or more advanced cases may be lethargic and avoid play in addition to acting as in pain when the ears are touched. If an ear infection spreads to the middle ear, a dog can have vertigo like symptoms and appear dizzy or off-balance. Dog Ear Infection in 3 year old Cocker Spaniel. Ear wax exudate is present, swollen and ear canal inflamed Source: Joel Mills
In more severe cases of otitis, a very pungent odor may also be present and the dog’s ears may be very painful to the point where it will not allow or will cry out with handling of the head or ears. Inhalant Allergy: Redness on ears and ear canal (may be only symptom) Contact Allergy: Suspect problems with topical medications if dog ear infection gets worse after treatment
In order to prevent a dog ear infection from becoming severe, it is important for owners to recognize and act on the signs of early ear infections. If a dog is shaking his head or scratching his ears more than normal, this should not be ignored. Lift the dog’s ear pinna and look into the ear canal. If you see reddened or inflamed ear tissue or abnormal discharge within the ear canal, you should seek veterinary care right away.
It is best to avoid over-the-counter ear cleaners and medications until after you have spoken to the veterinarian. Many of these cleaners contain alcohol, which can be irritating and painful to an already irritated ear. Furthermore, putting agents into the ear before the veterinary examination can hinder the vet’s ability to properly diagnose the type of infection. Ear Discharge and Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs
The color and consistency of any dog ear discharge can indicate the cause of a canine ear infection. Vets will commonly test the discharge in order to reach a diagnosis. Exudates/Discharge, Symptoms and Related Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs
Dog Ear Infection Symptoms
Probable Cause of Dog Ear Infection Dark Brown to Black and Waxy