Ear Infections



Active dogs can be perfect candidates to suffer from constant ear irritations or infections.  They are the ones that are most likely to swim in not-so-clean water or stick their heads in holes where they should not be stuck, all of which can cause accumulation of dirt and grime in the ear.  Certain breeds of dog are also more prone to suffering from ear infections due to the conformation of the ear, which can aid in making conditions in the ear warm, dark and moist – perfect for bacteria and fungi to prosper.  Susceptible breeds include Labradors, Spaniels and Retrievers.  Ear infections can however also be caused by allergies, hormonal abnormalities and hereditary disease.  If your dog is having recurrent ear infections it is very important to get to the actual cause of the infection and not to continually just treat the symptoms.

To know what an unhealthy ear looks like it is always good to first know what we expect a healthy ear to look like.  A healthy ear is clean, odour free, pale pink in colour and has a minimal accumulation of wax.

The signs to look out for when suspecting ear disease include:

Ø       Unpleasant odour

Ø       Excessive scratching and pawing of the ear & head

Ø       Sensitivity to touch, often resulting in pain

Ø       Constant tilting/shaking of the head to one side

Ø       Black or yellowish discharge

Ø       Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal

Ø       Changes in behaviour like listlessness, depression or irritability

Ø       Accumulation of dark brown wax

Ø       Loss of balance or hearing and disorientation

Ø       Bleeding or discharge resembling coffee grinds

We always recommend that you bring your dog to see a veterinarian when you suspect that your dog has an ear infection.  We will do a smear for each ear and examine under the microscope to determine exactly what is contributing the ear infection.  Based on this, the correct ear antibiotic and antifungal can be prescribed to ensure your dog a speedy recovery.  To make sure that the ear infection is properly treated it is very important that the full course of antibiotic and antifungal be completed, even if your dog is no longer in pain, scratching or shaking his/her head.  Remember, most ear treatments include a pain killer to make your dog more comfortable while the infection is being treated, so, even though your dog may look better the antibiotics still need time to be effective.

Although all this information is making ear infections sound like a mountain which may be really tough to climb, there are preventative measures that you can take to minimize your dog’s chances of getting ear infections.  Especially if he/she is either a predisposed breed or a great lover of water and general adventure.  Routine ear cleaning is an excellent aid in helping to clear up an existing infection and in maintaining a healthy ear.  We can recommend the most appropriate cleaning schedule that meets your dog’s needs.

Clean, healthy ears will help keep your dog’s tail wagging!