Ear infections in dogs are a common ailment, especially in breeds with floppy ears such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. Dogs are more susceptible to getting them than humans because of the shape of their ear canals. If you’ve had a dog with an ear infection, you know how miserable it can be for them. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to treat ear infections so your dog can get back to all his favorite things.

Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections in dogs are caused by either a yeast or bacteria buildup, or by ear mites (in puppies). There are three types of ear infections that dogs can get:

  • Otitis Externa—this refers to an infection in the outer part of the ear canal.
  • Otitis Media—an infection in the middle ear that is usually caused by an initial infection in the external ear.
  • Otitis Interna—an infection in the inner ear canal, also usually spread from the external ear.

What causes ear infections in dogs?

The following factors may lead to an ear infection in dogs:

  • Moisture
  • Allergies
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Wax buildup
  • Objects lodged in the ear
  • Injury to the ear canal
  • Excessive cleaning

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

How do you know if your dog’s scratching is just normal dog stuff or if he needs to be seen by a vet? Look for some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Head shaking
  • Excessive scratching at the ear
  • Discharge in the ear
  • Odor
  • Redness and swelling in the ear
  • Crusting, scabs, or dried blood in the ear

Diagnosing an Ear Infection

You know your dog better than anyone. If you suspect he has an ear infection, it is important that you schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible. Not only is it uncomfortable for him, but without treatment, it could progress to the middle or inner ear and eventually cause serious complications. Never try to treat an ear infection on your own.

Your vet will ask for a thorough history of the problem and then he or she will perform what’s called an ear cytology. This is a simple, quick, and routine procedure that is used to determine if there is an infection and if so, what exactly is causing it (yeast or bacteria). 

Treatment for Ear Infections in Dogs

The treatment will depend on what is causing the infection. 

  • First, your vet will thoroughly clean your dog’s ear(s) with a medicated solution. 
  • They may also prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical medication for you to apply at home. 
  • In more severe cases, oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications may be needed.

Most ear infections get better within 1–2 weeks after you start treatment. But severe infections may take months to heal, or it might become a chronic issue. If your dog suffers from chronic ear infections that do not respond to treatment, there is likely another underlying cause, such as allergies. In this case, the root cause will need to be addressed in order to resolve the chronic ear infections. 

Preventing Ear Infections

Our philosophy is that prevention is the best medicine. Of course, ear infections can’t always be prevented, but there are some steps you can take to help protect your dog’s ears. 

  • Be sure to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after swimming and avoid getting water in the ears while bathing. 
  • Cleaning your dog’s ears regularly at home with a dog ear cleaning solution can also help prevent ear infections from developing. However, we know that this may be easier said than done. Ask us for tips and tricks for cleaning your dog’s ears at your next appointment.


Compassionate Vet in Gilbert

Unfortunately, ear infections are a common and often recurrent problem in many dogs. But, with prompt treatment, you can keep your dog’s ears clean and comfortable. If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection, give Anasazi Animal Clinic a call right away to ensure it heals quickly without complications. We will work hard to help get your dog feeling better and back to normal in no time!

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/29/2021) by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay