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Dog Inner Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment

Feb 6, 2022 | Dog

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Dog Inner Ear Infection Symptoms

For many pet parents, the telltale signs of ear infection are easy to spot: scratching, whining or excessive head shaking. Ear infections are among the most common conditions in dogs, especially those with floppier or larger ears like Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, and Basset Hounds.

There are actually three types of dog ear infections: otitis externa, media, and interna—each affecting different parts of the ear. Otitis externa occurs when inflammation affects the layer of cells lining the external or outer part of the ear canal. Otitis interna and media are infections that occur in the inner and middle ear canal. If left untreated, these infections can be extremely dangerous to your pet, so it’s important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms as they arise.

Some pups may show no signs of ear infection, while some may only show a buildup of wax or ear canal discharge. General dog ear infection symptoms including outer and middle ear infections can include:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching/pawing
  • Rubbing affected ear against the floor or hard objects
  • Foul odor
  • Yellow, brown, or bloody discharge
  • Redness & swelling of the ear canal
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Scabs or crusting
  • Loss of balance
  • Holding head with a tilt
  • Reluctance to chew food

Dog Ear Infection Causes

Several factors can contribute to your pup developing an ear infection. One highly common cause, especially in Arizona, is allergies. Another common cause is excessive moisture. As the weather heats up, people and their pets take to the lake or pool to cool off. If your pup’s ears are not properly cleaned/dried after playing in the water, that moisture creates a prime growing environment for yeast and bacteria.

Other dog ear infection causes include:

  • Excess hair within the ear canal 
  • Earwax buildup
  • Allergies
  • Food sensitivity
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Ear canal injury
  • Thyroid disease
  • Overcleaning
  • Hormone imbalances

Treating & Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs

If your pet is displaying any of the previously mentioned symptoms, the best thing you can do is visit your veterinarian to establish a treatment plan as soon as possible. After examining your pet, your vet may likely thoroughly clean the ear canal with a medicated cleaning solution. They may also prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical ointment for you to continue treatment at home. In more serious cases, antibiotics may be prescribed. This will not only get your pet on a quick road to recovery and soothe any discomfort, but it will also prevent the spread of infection.

While most uncomplicated infections tend to resolve within 1-2 weeks with proper treatment, it’s best to do your part to prevent an issue before it ever occurs. Some of the best approaches for preventing ear infections in dogs include:

  • Check the ears regularly for wax or debris
  • Keep the ears dry and well ventilated, thoroughly drying following exposure to moisture
  • Work with your vet to identify/manage any underlying issues such as allergies
  • Avoid cleaning with paper towels or cotton as these leave fibers behind
  • Consider having your pet groomed regularly
  • Ensure excess ear hair is trimmed regularly by a professional
  • Schedule annual check-ups with your veterinarian

Is your pet displaying signs of an ear infection? Schedule a visit at your local AZPetVet location so we can help! Ear infections are uncomfortable but not untreatable. With a little TLC, we can get your four-legged friend feeling better in no time!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

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