Besides causing a lot of inconvenience and pain, a canine ear infection can have some really serious consequences, if not treated on time. The various possible causes, as well as the symptoms and treatment of this condition are discussed in this article.
Like humans, dogs can also suffer from ear infections, which can cause pain and inflammation of the ear. Canine ear infections can be termed one of the most common health problems in dogs. An ear infection can be of three types – otitis externa, otitis media, and otitis interna. Otitis externa is the infection of the external ear, while otitis media is the infection of the middle ear. On the other hand, an infection of the inner ear is termed as otitis interna. Infections of the middle and inner ear are considered more serious than an infection of the external ear.
Several factors can cause an ear infection. But it is more commonly associated with an overgrowth of bacteria, fungi or yeasts, and mites. An overgrowth of microorganisms in the ear can occur due to improper hygiene and grooming. Allergies to certain specific foods and fleas can also cause ear infections in dogs.
Ear infections are more commonly observed in dogs having floppy ears and excess fur inside the ears, which can prevent air circulation. Similarly, breeds that love to swim a lot, can also get frequent ear infections, as water and other foreign objects can easily enter the ear canal while swimming. This in turn, can create a moist environment, which can contribute towards bacterial and fungal overgrowth inside the ear. Sometimes, ear infections can also be caused by the secretion of excess earwax.
The symptoms of an ear infection can be mild or severe depending on the severity of the infection, as well as the part of the ear that is infected. Generally, middle and inner ear infections present more serious complications, as compared to an infection of the outer ear. A few of the most common symptoms that can be observed in canine ear infections are:
- Swelling and inflammation of the ear
- Severe itching, that often compels the dog to scratch or rub the affected ear frequently
- Redness or tenderness of the ear
- A foul-smelling, yellow discharge
- Frequent head shaking or head tilting by the affected dog
If a dog exhibits symptoms, like problems in coordination and balancing, then it can indicate a severe infection of the middle or inner ear. An infection of the external ear usually does not produce such symptoms.
An infection of the external ear is usually easier to treat than a middle or inner ear infection. The treatment of ear infections in dogs depends on the underlying causes. Usually, the ear is flushed, and then cleaned with a disinfectant, if an infection is present. Veterinarians generally prescribe antibacterial ear drops to treat ear infections caused by bacteria. On the other hand, antifungal ointments are employed for canine ear infection treatment, if the infection is caused by fungus.
Regular cleaning of the ear is an important part of treatment, along with the use of medications prescribed by the veterinarians. This is especially important for dogs with floppy ears. Along with regular cleaning, be sure to trim the hair or fur present in the ears. This would help improve air circulation, and facilitate the healing process.
Vinegar or apple cider vinegar is an excellent home remedy for canine ear infections. However, be sure to dilute it for cleaning the infected ear, as vinegar is highly acidic. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar can change the pH inside the ear, which in turn, can help contain the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Vitamin E oil, garlic oil, and tea tree oil are some other remedies for ear infections. You can also apply a warm compress on the affected area several times a day, which can help reduce the pain and irritation. Similarly, vitamin E oil can also help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by an ear infection. On the other hand, garlic oil and tea tree oil are known for their antibiotic and antifungal properties, and so, they can help treat an infection of the ear.
While cleaning the ears of your dog, do not insert cotton buds deep inside the ears. Instead, use a piece of cloth to take out the dirt and filth. Like regular cleaning, grooming is also an important part of dog care. So, be sure to trim the excess hair present in the ear, in order to ensure proper ventilation and prevent the recurrences of ear infections. At the same time, keep in mind that ear infections in dogs should be treated immediately. If the infection spreads to the internal ear, it can eventually affect the central nervous system. This can lead to some serious consequences. So, never forget to contact a veterinarian at the earliest, on observing the symptoms of an ear infection in your dog.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.