Ear Infections

How common are ear infections in dogs?

Infection of the external ear canal is very common in dogs especially those with allergies or who have long or hairy ear canals like Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, Golden Retrievers or Old English Sheepdogs.

How do I know that my dog has an ear infection?

Dogs with ear infections flap and scratch their ears. The inside of the ear flap is red, inflamed and smelly. A black or yellowish discharge often develops.

Yeasts are the cause of most ear infections. They affect swimmers and those with long, narrow or hair filled ears that stay moist. Dogs with allergies to food or pollen also have warm, moist, inflamed ears that favour repeated infection.

When chronic ear infections are inadequately treated, more resistant bacteria can survive in the ear and are difficult to clear.

What about ear mites?

Ear mites cause a black discharge, scratching, and head shaking. They usually affect puppies or in contact adult dogs.

Can’t I just collect some medication?

There are several kinds of bacteria and at least one type of yeast that cause ear infections. Without knowing the kind of infection present, we do not know which medication to use.

Foreign bodies, like grass seeds, and tumours in the ear canal cause irritated ears, too. Treatment with medication alone will not resolve these problems.

The dog must also be examined to be sure that the eardrum is intact. Some medications result in loss of hearing if the eardrum is ruptured.

We examine a sample of the material from the ear canal under a microscope (cytology) to find which organism is the cause of the infection.

How are ear infections treated?

If there is a foreign body in the ear canal, we sedate the dog and remove it.

If there is a heavy build-up of debris we anæsthetise the dog and clean the canal.

We choose ear drops based on the type of organism we see in the discharge from the ear.

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