Ear Infections

An Ear Infection Can Cause Pain, Itchiness and Discomfort for a Dog.

Infections of the external ear canal (outer ear) by bacteria or yeast, are one of the most common types of infections seen in dogs. Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels with heavy pendulous ears and Border Collies with lots of hair inside the ears are most susceptible, although any dog can get an ear infection.

Ear infections are most commonly caused by bacteria, yeast or ear mites. Anything that impairs drainage and promotes moisture in the ear such as growths, hair mats or waxy buildup can bring on infection. Also dust, fleas, mold, pollen and even certain foods can cause irritation within the ear.
Though ear mites are usually a contagious parasite which results from contact with another infected animal, yeast and bacterial infections are often secondary infections. Allergies to certain foods, fleas, dust, mold or pollen can also play a role in the development of an ear infection for a dog, often resulting in secondary types of ear infections. Canine atopy may also predispose a dog to developing secondary ear infections.

Ear infections in dogs can range from mild to quite severe. Symptoms most commonly seen with ear infections in dogs include:

  • shaking the head
  • scratching at the ears
  • a smelly odor from within the ear canal
  • a dark or yellowish discharge from within the ear canal
  • redness and inflammation inside of the ear canal
  • scabs and inflammation in the skin surrounding the ear
  • sensitive to the touch, causing dog or yelp or pull away from being petted

It is important to take your pet to the vet sooner rather than later as the type of infection needs to be identified. When an infection is allowed to linger, it may be harder to cure and has the potential for permanent damage. Depending on the type of infection, whether it is bacterial, or caused by mites and whether the ear drum is intact determines what kind of cleansers and medications should be used. In extreme cases, when the ear canal is swollen shut, surgery may be the only option. Additionally, there may be some other underlying cause which needs to be addressed, such as diabetes, allergies, tumor, or thyroid problems.

Most ear infections respond well to treatment, but in some cases, they can be chronic and recurring. The longer an infection has been established, generally the harder it is to cure. Untreated infections can cause extreme pain and hearing loss.

Regular cleanings with a good ear cleansing solution goes a long way toward preventing ear infections. Dogs with hair growing inside the ears will benefit from keeping it clipped.
Helpful treatments include:

  • Increasing air circulation inside the ears can control the growth of bacteria, yeast and fungi. Trim hair inside the ears periodically to allow more air to get inside.
  • Don’t let debris accumulate in your dog’s ears – clean with a herbal ear cleaner regularly.
  • In case of yeast infections, diluted white vinegar massaged into the area will help eliminate the problem.
  • Eliminate toxins with a healthy, all natural diet that doesn’t contain additives or preservatives can greatly reduce the amount of wax that the ears produce, while also helping to boost the immune system.
  • Stop ear mites by putting a few (3-7) drops of olive oil into each ear canal daily will help smother the mites and allow the infection to heal. You usually need to continue the oil treatment for 3-4 weeks.