Have you ever gotten an ear infection? It was probably very uncomfortable for a day or two before you realized that you needed to go to the doctor and get it checked out. But when a dog has ear inflammation, they have no way to communicate that they need to go to the doctor. Therefore, it is very important that each dog owner learns to recognize the small signs that their dog could have a painful ear inflammation (also known as otitis). Here are the signs to look for, as well as some helpful ways to treat and prevent otitis in your dog.
What Causes Otitis in Dogs?
There are a number of different causes of otitis in dogs. These causes can include:
- Ear infections caused by either harmful yeasts, such as Malassezia, or bacteria, such as Staphylococci
- Parasites such as ear mites or fleas
- Allergies to food or environmental factors
- Foreign bodies in the ear such as plant burrs
- Tumors in the ear
- Diseases that affect the immune system or the skin such as lupus and hypothyroidism
What Are the Symptoms of Otitis in Dogs?
If your dog has an inflamed ear, the most obvious sign will be redness or swelling of the ear canal. But even if you don't examine your dog's inner ear closely, you should notice a number of other symptoms. These include:
- Frequent scratching around the ear
- Loss of hearing
- Trouble balancing
- Frequent head shaking
- Rubbing the head against furniture or against the ground
- Scabs around the ear
- Strange discharge from the ear
- Odor from the ear
- Hair loss near the ear
How Can Otitis Be Treated?
If you notice that your dog has a number of symptoms of otitis, it is time to take them to the vet or a Pet Medical Center – Full Service Veterinary Care. The vet will examine the dog's ear canal and make a diagnosis of what may be causing the ear inflammation. If your dog has discharge from the ear, the vet may also do a test on it to see what may be causing it.
The treatment for your dog's otitis will depend on the exact cause of the inflammation. For parasitic causes, the vet will focus on killing the parasites. For bacterial and yeast infections, the vet will prescribe an antibiotic. If the inflammation is caused by an underlying condition, the vet will put a treatment plan in place that can help you successfully manage your dog's condition.
Regardless of the cause of the otitis, your vet will likely do a thorough cleaning of your dog's ears to help reduce the inflammation. If your dog is in a lot of pain, the vet may also prescribe a pain killer to give the dog until the ear has returned to normal.
How Can Otitis Be Prevented?
Preventing otitis is very easy and can help your dog be happier and healthier. Here are a few steps to take to keep your dog's ears safe.
- Regularly examine your dog's ears to look for inflammation and unusual discharge.
- Ask your vet for help learning how to clean your dog's ears at home. The vet can prescribe an ear-cleaning solution that you can use. Do not attempt to clean your dog's ears without first getting proper instruction on how to do so.
- Dry out your dog's ears each time you give them a bath. Water in the ear can increase the risk of infection.
If you make the effort to prevent otitis (and to recognize the signs early so that you can get your dog to the vet immediately if it does occur), your dog will not have to deal with the pain and irritation that ear inflammation can bring.