If a family member has an ear infection, you will most likely know, since they will be able to tell you they are experiencing pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, your dog is not able to vocalize how they feel, which can lead to further discomfort and even serious complications.
Considering that ear infections are the most common insurance claims made by dog owners, understanding this common condition is essential for your pet's well-being. With this guide and your veterinarian's help, you will learn the signs, causes, and treatment options for your dog's ear infections.
Again, your dog cannot tell you that they are feeling pain in one or both of their ears. However, they will show you there is an issue that needs to be addressed. If you notice your dog exhibiting one or more of the following signs, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian immediately:
• Scratching one or both ears
• Shaking the head rapidly
• Balancing issues
• Difficulty walking
• Hearing loss/unable to hear and follow commands
In addition, you may notice that the infected ear is red. Brown or yellow discharge may also be present in the outer portion of the infected ear. The constant scratching may cause hair to fall out around the ear, as well. Continuous scratching of the area could also lead to skin irritation and light bleeding.
Ear infections occur for many different reasons, and determining what has caused your dog's infection can be difficult.
Most infections develop from inflammation. This inflammation may occur from fleas, ticks and other parasites that enter your dog's ear. Over time, your dog will scratch in an attempt to clean the ear, causing the infection to develop and even spread throughout the entire ear.
Allergens can also cause your dog to develop an ear infection. If your dog suffers from a food or environmental allergy, they may begin to experience itchiness and inflammation in the ear that will develop into an infection.
Moisture in the ear is one of the most common causes of infections. Your dog's ear can become irritated for many reasons. Water can get into your dog's ears while taking a bath, swimming, or being outdoors when it is raining.
Allowing this moisture to stay in your dog's ears can be dangerous, since the warm moisture increases the risk of bacteria growth. This bacteria will cause an infection in the ear.
Be sure to wipe out your dog's ears with a clean, dry cloth if any moisture is present. When bathing, make sure to rinse soap off your dog's head.
Also, consider using a cleaning solution that is specifically formulated for cleaning your dog's ears. A small amount of this solution on a cloth is sufficient for removing dirt, debris, and any discharge from your dog's ears.
Lastly, certain dog breeds have a higher risk of developing ear infections. Breeds with longer ears, such as poodles and cocker spaniels, have a higher risk of ear infections because moisture, dirt and allergens can build up and remain inside the ear for longer periods.
If left untreated, your dog's ear infection can spread and cause permanent damage. In some instances, the damage can lead to permanent hearing loss. Because of these risks, visiting the veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing signs of an infection is imperative.
A cotton swab will be used to test the ear for signs of bacteria. This sample is used to determine if your dog has an ear infection before treatment begins.
If the test is positive for an infection, antibiotic ointments will be prescribed. Applying this ointment to your dog's infected ear once or twice daily will be necessary.
Cleaning your dog's ear with a medicated solution may also be recommended. Make sure to use gentle motions when cleaning the dog's ear, since the inflammation from the infection may last for many days during treatment.
Ear infections may not be life-threatening, but they can cause your dog a great deal of discomfort. To learn more about the signs, causes, treatments and preventative measures for ear infections, contact the Barfield Animal Hospital today.