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How to treat a dog's ear infection?

Dog getting ear checked at the vet advice
© Shutterstock

Ear infections in dogs are very common. That is why pet parents should know the best dog ear infection treatment. Dogs suffer ear infections at least one time in their life.

By Daniel Mar

Knowing when your dog has an ear infection is easy. “Scratching and rubbing at the ear(s) and head shaking are common signs. You may also notice an abnormal odour from the ear or see redness or swelling”, says Dr Henry Cerny. In this article, you will learn about the causes, symptoms and dog ear infection treatment.

Causes of dog ear infection

Before you pick a proper dog ear infection treatment, you need to determine what is causing the disease. There are numerous reasons why a dog might get an ear infection. Usually, these reasons are placed under three broad categories: lifestyle, allergies, and genetics.

  1. Lifestyle: Those dogs that are frequently exposed to water can easily develop ear infections. Therefore, if the ear is not properly dried after swimming or bathing, moisture can get trapped (the dog’s ear canal is vertical). This moisture can nurture bacteria thus leading to yeast growth.

  2. Allergies: Other times, the underlying causes are not so noticeable. Your dog could be allergic to specific environmental factors like pollen, grass, dust mites, water or he may be allergic to food. Food allergies in dogs are caused by fish, beef, chicken, or soy.

  3. Genetics: These are more common than you may think. For example, dogs with floppy ears are very prone to ear infection. The main reason is that their ear flap restricts air flow. Consequently, this creates a moist environment which is perfect for breeding yeast and bacteria. Furthermore, breeds with hairy ears are also likely to be affected since the hair in their ear canal can trap moisture. Additionally, dogs born with thyroid or endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases or meningitis tend to develop ear infections.

Symptoms of ear infection in dogs

dog ear infection
How does a dog ear infection look like? ©Shutterstock

If your dog has an ear infection, he will display several symptoms which dog owners should know about:

Yellow, brown or bloody discharge

  • Bad odour
  • Black ear wax
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Scaly skin
  • Rubbing the ear on the floor
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of balance
  • Reluctance to chew (pain in mouth and ear)
  • Excessive head shaking
  • Head tilting

Best dog ear infection treatment

You may be wondering about how to treat a dog ear infection? For successful dog ear infection treatment, you must clean the ear with a good cleanser because your dog will be in pain. You can make a homemade ear cleanser that can be just as good as commercial ear cleaners. You just need to get white vinegar. Afterwards, dilute one-part vinegar in one-part water. Then, place it in a squeeze bottle. An effective way to clean the ear is to fill the ear canal with this cleaning solution.

Then, place a cotton ball in the ear canal opening. The cotton ball is vital! It serves several functions. “It acts as a lid to the allow the fluid to go back and forth in the canal, it absorbs the excess solution and it holds onto the debris as it comes up, letting you know what is down in the ear canal”, says Dr Cerny. To finish up, gently massage the ear at the base. When the infection is not serious, this is an excellent dog ear infection treatment.

Likewise, there are a few cautions to keep in mind when cleaning a dog’s ear.

“Do not use Q-Tip swabs as they may push debris deeper into the ear canal and rupture the eardrum. Do not use rubbing alcohol or other solutions that are irritating to the inflamed skin. After the ear canal has been cleaned, allow it to dry for approximately 10 minutes”, says Dr Cerny.

Lastly, to treat the dog ear infection, you have to apply the medication(s) your vet prescribed. Even though dog ear infection medicine usually is ointments and creams, in some cases, oral medications are necessary. Antibiotics for dog ear infection are quite effective.

Prevention measure for dog ear infection

There are several ways to prevent a dog ear infection. When the ear canal becomes moist from bathing or swimming, you need to clean the ear as previously described to remove the moisture and prevent the infection. However, if your dog suffers from allergies, you need to determine the exact cause of the allergy. Then, get medication to keep the allergy in check. It is important to prevent by any means the overgrowth of bacteria and yeast organisms that normally inhabit the skin.

Here you have some important tips to treat and prevent a dog ear infection. Follow them to keep your dog’s ears healthy!