Infections in your dogs ears may be as a result of a number of issues. Often, an infection may occur because of ear mites, trapped water, growing hair, or a foreign body or tumor, leading to an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. An excessive build up of ear wax, allergies, or hypothyroidism may also result in the development of an infection.

Because of the design of a dogs ear canal, in that it channels downward from the opening, and then horizontally, it can be difficult for water or other trapped debris to escape from the ear. If your dog spends a lot of time in water, or if he is bathed a great deal, then this contact with water can increase the chances of his developing an infection. It is important to note that even the best intentioned cleaning of your dog’s ears, if done incorrectly, may also cause an infection.

Symptoms of Ear Infection

There are a number of symptoms which responsible dog owners will want to watch for, which may indicate that your dog might have an ear infection. These include scratcing of the ears or wiping them on the furniture or the floor, redness, swelling or a discharge from the ear which is yellow, brown or bloody. Get close to your dog and be aware of any unpleasant odors from his ears, and carefully examine him for signs of scabby or crusted skin around his ear flap, or for any hair loss around the ear area.

There are more symptoms to be aware of, which are also associated with other medical conditions as well as ear infections. Monitor your dog for signs of head shaking or loss of balance, take note of his eye movements to see if these are unusual. Your dog may walk in circles, or may show signs of loss of hearing. You may also notice that your dogs behavior changes and he may become more aggressive. This may be as a result of his being in pain, in which case, you should not hesitate to seek assistance.

If you identify one of these symptoms, or any number of them, contact your veterinarian to have your dog examined.

Which Breeds of Dog Get Ear Infections?

Although any breed has the potential for an ear infection, some breeds of dog are more vulnerable than others. While floppy ears can be endearing feature, they tend to be more prone to infection. Cocker spaniels, poodles, and golden retrievers are all susceptible to infections. As hybrids of these breeds, cockapoos are particularly prone, as are goldendoodles and labradoodles. Some breeds of dog, such as schnauzers, have a tendency to grow hair within the canal of the ear, and thus have an increased risk of developing an ear infection.

Diagnosing Ear Infection

It is important to allow your veterinarian to properly diagnose an ear infection in your dog. If you were to take action to treat your dogs infection without first consulting your veterinarian, you may unintentionally cause more harm to your dog, possibly resulting in pain or deafness.

An examination will usually involve close inspection of the ear canal and ear drum by using an ear cone. It is possible that a proper examination may require that your dog be sedated. If your dogs ear is exhibiting a discharge, then this may be examined for yeast, bacteria, or parasites. Your veterinarian may also recommend allergy tests and blood tests to fully determine the cause of any infection.

Treating Ear Infections

The basis for treatment of infection is in cleaning. Most infections may be successfully treated by having your dogs ears cleaned professionally, and then following this up by a regular cleaning routine at home. Your veterinarian may give you a prescription for medication to be used along with the cleaning routine. Medications sometimes utilized in this process are anti-fungals, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics. The type of product your doctor prescribes will depend on the type and severity of the infection. In more serious cases of ear infection, your dog may require his ears to be flushed while under anesthesia, or in less common cases, even surgery.

Preventing Ear Infection

Awareness and maintenance of your dogs health is a key part of preventing infections. On a regular basis, check your dogs ears for signs of infection and the symptoms listed above.

If you find that your dogs ear canal is dirty, carefully clean it by using a cotton ball which has been dampened with a solution made for this purpose, but do not clean too frequently or too deeply that you cause any irritation. You can also buy pre-moistened ear wipes. You should be able to find other ear cleaning products anywhere that sells pet supplies.

There are several popular home remedies for ear-cleaning prevention. One, a mixture of white vinegar and water is a popular home solution, but I have no experience with this method and cannot verify its usefulness. I have heard, on our Facebook Page and from other sources, of using Monistat wipes on a dog’s ears. The active ingredient in this product destroys yeast, but I have no experience with this method either, and so it is presented with a caution: To be safe, contact your veterinarian for recommendations about what you should and shouldn’t use on your dog’s ears.

After your dog has been in contact with water, either bathing or swimming, take care to dry his ears thoroughly. If recommended by your veterinarian, consider using an ear drying solution.

As mentioned above, some breeds of dog tend to grow hairs in and around the opening of the ear canal. If you find this to be the case with your dog, tweeze such hairs from time to time. If your dog will not tolerate your tweezing, seek the advice and assistance of your dogs groomer.

The skin in your dogs inner ear is very sensitive, so err on the side of caution when caring for your dogs ears.┬áSeek the guidance of your veterinarian if you require any assistance in caring for your dog’s ears.