If you’ve had a dog, chances are they’ve had an ear infection at least once in their life. An ear infection — or otitis — is the second most frequently claimed condition for dogs that Trupanion receives. This condition affects many dogs, but with some guidance from your veterinarian, you can help prevent or treat a dog ear infection as soon as they happen.
We asked Denise Petryk, DVM, to answer a few questions about dog ear infections. Below is what she had to say.
What causes dog ear infection?
A dog’s ear has both a vertical and horizontal ear canal, basically making the ear canal an “L-shape.” It is difficult for debris to exit the ear especially once it makes it into the horizontal canal or the bottom part of the “L.” This anatomical feature of a dog’s ear canal is partly what makes dogs prone to ear infection. Ear infections can be caused by a number of things, including debris or parasites in the ear, excessive hair growth, or other irritation of the ear canal. Recurring ear infections are often caused by the specific conformation of a dog’s ear, allergies, or other underlying conditions.
Dogs with floppy ears, like Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels, have an even greater chance of developing ear infections because their ears have a more moist, damp, and dark environment that can harbor bacteria or yeast.
Ear infection in dogs: “telltail” signs
Keep an eye out for ear discharge, ear or head pain, redness and inflammation, foul odor, excessive scratching of the ears, and shaking or tilting of the head. Serious ear infections can even cause your pet to lose their balance.
How can I treat my dog’s ear infection?
If you suspect your pet has an ear infection, consult your veterinarian. If your dog does have an ear infection, your veterinarian will typically clean out their ear and prescribe a medication to administer at home. During your appointment, your veterinarian can show you how to gently clean your dog’s ears of wax and debris and show you how to safely administer medication.
Keep an eye on your dog’s ears!
To prevent ear infections in the future, check your dog’s ears for symptoms regularly. During your dog’s next appointment with the veterinarian, ask how to clean your dog’s ears. If your veterinarian finds your dog’s recurring ear infections are a result of allergies, make sure your dog is maintaining a consistent diet and/or receiving other appropriate care to keep the pet allergies under control!