How to Treat Dog Ear Infection: All You Need to Know

How to Treat Dog Ear InfectionEar infections are among the 6th most common health problems in dogs, according to Pet WebMD. One out of five dogs has an ear disease, ranging from mild inflammation to severe ear infection. As responsible pet parents, we should always equip ourselves with the right knowledge on how to treat dog ear infections, among other diseases.

What are the Different Types of Ear Infections in Dogs?

There are three kinds of ear infections that affect the different parts of the canine ear.
medicine ear

Otitis Externa
Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external auditory canal — the part that you can see. Infection in the outer ear is most common since it is always exposed to foreign bodies.
Otitis Media
Fifty percent of dogs with chronic otitis externa are predisposed to otitis media, which is the infection of the middle ear. Unresolved otitis externa makes your dog’s eardrum porous overtime. Thus, the infection from the outer ear will pass through the eardrum and spread into the inner ear.
Otitis Interna
Otitis interna causes severe pain, and many serious complications can occur if the infection continues to spread deeper into the inner ear structures. These complications include brain abscess, deafness, and meningitis.

What are the Main Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs?

Convalescing dogs and those diagnosed with an autoimmune disease may develop an ear infection due to their weakened immune system. But the most common reasons why dogs get an ear infection are as follows:

Studies show that bacteria cause nearly 50% of ear infections in dogs, as well as consequent inflammation of the inner ear. Healthy dogs have strains of bacteria present in their ears as with other parts of the body. However, external factors can cause bacteria to increase to an overwhelming amount, resulting in an infection.

For instance, dogs who like to swim and play in the pond are exposed to Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria is found all over the world, particularly in plants, soil, and stagnant water. Although less commonly, our canine companions may also develop an ear infection due to Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella spp.

Ear Mites
Otodectes cynotis, which is commonly known as ear mites, can also trigger an infection, especially in young puppies. You can identify these minute arachnids by their discharge, which resembles fine-ground coffee beans. Ear mites are contagious, so you want to treat them right away. But compared to a bacterial infection, it is easier to manage. Medication to treat parasites can clear up the infection and prevent it from recurring. A bacterial infection, on the other hand, is most likely to reoccur unless you have successfully addressed the root of the problem.
Genetic Disposition
Dogs tend to develop an ear infection due to the shape of their ears. Unlike humans, their ear canals are more vertical and thus, forming an L-shape that tends to hold in fluids. This leads to excessive moisture and thus, creates a prime environment for bacteria. However, some canines are particularly more prone to bacterial infections. Among these breeds are the following:

  • Setters
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Pekingese
  • Shih Tzus
  • Poodles
  • Maltese
  • Schnauzers

These breeds have either long, floppy ears or hairy ones. The thick hair lined in the ear traps moisture and causes foreign bodies to lodge easily. Likewise, floppy ears limit airflow and have a higher tendency to build up wax. Since both ear types create a dark and moist environment, it encourages yeast and bacteria to proliferate.

Another reason to blame for your pooch’s itchy and smelly otitis is allergies. Around 80% of dogs with allergies develop otitis at some point. Food sensitivities and contact materials — corn, dairy, grass, and pollen — cause inflammation of the ears and nose in dogs, increasing the growth of yeast that is already present inside the ear canal.

Oftentimes, dogs with allergies can have a problem with only one ear. To help minimize exposure to potential allergens, provide your dog a limited-ingredient, hypoallergenic diet. Keeping a diary can also help you identify potential allergens during certain times of the year.

How Do You Recognize an Ear Infection in Dogs?

veterinarianAn ear infection can develop quickly, and among its telltale signs are:

  • Head shaking or head tilting
  • Pawing or scratching of the ear or around the ear
  • Rubbing of the ear and surrounding area on the floor or furniture
  • Cheesy smells and dark discharge

The symptoms of otitis media and otitis interna largely depend on how extensive the infection has become. In both cases, your dog may display the following:

  • Redness, swelling, and crusting of the outer ear
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
If both ears are affected, additional symptoms may include:
  • Nystagmus (unusual eye movements)
  • Uncoordinated body movements
  • Hearing loss
And in severe cases, it involves the nervous system.

How Do You Treat Dog Ear Infections?

1. Take your dog to the vet for a thorough evaluation

Only the vet can distinguish whether your dog has otitis externa, otitis media, or otitis interna. Using an otoscope, he will look deep into your dog’s ear canal. The vet may also perform diagnostic tests, such as ear cultures, X-rays, surgical biopsy, and earwax examination to identify the cause of infection.

2. Follow the veterinarian’s recommendations

Be sure to follow the tailored treatment plan given by your vet. Ear problems must be treated specifically, depending on your dog’s diagnosis.

In most cases, a veterinarian would prescribe antibiotic therapy to address bacterial infections. Medications may include oral and topical antibiotics. To make the treatment effective, your vet will first have to remove the hair from the ear canal before he administers a medicated solution to clean the outer ears. Your vet will also want your pooch to start on pain medications and steroids to alleviate pain and itching.

Most bacterial infections will resolve within seven to fourteen days of aggressive antibiotic treatment. But if the ear infection is severe, your dog will have to be confined in the hospital and be assessed for possible neurologic symptoms. Dogs suffering from a recurrent ear infection may also need to undergo surgical drainage.

3. Finish the entire course of prescribed medication

When starting antibiotic therapy, you must finish the entire course of medication, even though your pooch seems back to normal. If you end your dog’s antibiotics prematurely, the bacteria that have not yet been killed can restart the infection and become resistant to the current medication. Lastly, return to your vet two weeks later for reassessment.
Treat Dog Ear

Can I Treat Dog Ear Infection Naturally?

“How can I treat dog ear infection without going to the vet?” This question is raised too many times across the social media platforms I participated in.
Antibiotic therapy isn’t feasible for all dogs. Canines with renal disease, in particular, have a negative response to antibiotics. The same goes for pets who are allergic to topical neomycin. That is why many pet owners want to know how to treat dog ear infection naturally. So, can you? For minor cases, yes.

Home Remedies for Dog Ear Infection

If you want to manage a minor ear infection holistically, I suggest you try the following homeopathic solutions:
Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide
For many years, hydrogen peroxide has been used as a natural remedy for ear infections of the outer and middle ear. However, this popular technique remains controversial and even intimidating among the pet community. But what do vets think about hydrogen peroxide?

Holistic vets are fine with the use of hydrogen peroxide for managing minor infections at home. This over-the-counter cleaning agent is particularly effective at softening wax, as well as eliminating yeast buildups. Then again, some vets oppose the idea of fighting ear infections with this DIY antiseptic solution. Part of this comes from the fact that hydrogen peroxide also damages healthy cells while it kills bacteria.

That is why it is crucial to tone down the chemical. A solution of one part water and one part hydrogen peroxide is already potent enough to kill bacterial colonies on the canals of the ear. You can always increase the measurements, but be sure to mix equal proportions.

How to Use:

  • Dab a cotton ball into the mixture and use it to clean the ear in circular motions, starting from the outer rim of the ear.
  • Get another fresh cotton ball and dab it into the solution. Move deeper into the ear canal as you wipe, but do not attempt to clean beyond that point.
  • Use a soft cloth to dry off the ear.
  • Repeat all the steps for the second ear. Don’t be startled if you see fizzling foam. The bubbles you see are oxygen gas.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar
There are plenty of potential uses for apple cider vinegar aside from steak marinades. A tiny bit of this kitchen staple is helpful in the prevention and treatment of dog ear infections. According to one study, apple cider vinegar have antimicrobial properties and is effective at killing E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

How to Use:

  • Dilute equal parts of water and apple cider vinegar.
  • Hold your dog’s ear still and pour a small capful directly into its ear. You may also use a dropper to squirt the solution into the ear canal.
  • Let the liquid sit for as long as your dog will allow and at the same time, gently massage the base of its ear.
  • Allow your dog to shake its head to get the liquid out.
  • Dry the inside of the ear using a cotton bud and clean the outside of the ear using a towel.

The apple cider solution should stop the itching almost instantly. But it is wise to keep it up for a few days to make sure there are signs of infection left. You may also clean your dog’s ear using this solution to keep the bacteria at bay.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil
Another home remedy you may already have in your pantry is coconut oil. A few drops of coconut oil relieves itchiness and earaches. Coconut oil also has natural antiseptic properties that gently clear up mild ear infections.

How Can You Prevent a Dog Ear Infection?

Recurring ear infections can lead to deafness and repeated doses of antibiotics have long-term side effects, as well. That is why we should ensure that our beloved pets do not continue to have this problem.

Clean doggie ears regularly

Clean your dog’s ears at least twice a week, and more often if you have an outdoorsy canine. Environmental allergies are more difficult to avoid and track down than food allergens. Use a vet-recommended solution or any of the natural remedies mentioned above to doggie ears fresh and clean.
Remember not to push Q-tips into the ear canal, as this could only push the debris deeper.

Pay careful attention to your dog’s water activities

You have more reasons to check your dog’s ears frequently if your canine dynamo loves to swim and play with water. Staying a few steps ahead of ear infections to reduce the number of trips you must make to the vet.

Consult your groomer

Ask your groomer the best way to clean your pt’s ears since dogs have different ear shapes and lengths of ear hairs. However, do not pluck ear hairs at home, unless you have experience. If you find your dog’s ears difficult to clean, let the groomer handle the situation for you.

Give your pooch a high-quality, nutritionally complete diet An impaired immune system can make your beloved pet prone to infections. So, keep your canine companion in top shape by providing him a complete and well-balanced diet. You should also consider giving your pooch supplements. A daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids promotes healthier skin and coat, as well as reduce inflammation associated with allergies.

Wrapping Up

Symptoms of dog ear infection are hard to miss. Doggo will appear as though he is headbanging to 90s metal music, and he will always smell like a bag of sour cream potato chips. However, this scenario isn’t funny.

Ear infections can escalate quickly, so spare your pooch needless suffering and prompt veterinary care as soon as you suspect your dog has an ear infection. You need an expert’s help to rule out the underlying cause in order to find the best way to uproot the problem and prevent its recurrence. Otherwise, you could aggravate the infection by administering wrong over-the-counter drugs.

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