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Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections are a very common problem in dogs, especially those with “floppy” ears, spaniels and retrievers. The medical term for ear infection is “otitis externa” which means an inflammation of the external ear canal.

You may notice your dog shaking its head, scratching at the ears or just having a bad smell. Often pet owners will only notice ear infections after the dog shows pain when being petted on the head. In severe cases, dogs may develop a discharge of pus, head tilt or a complete ossification (cartilage turns to bone) of the external ear canal.

There are several factors that can predispose your dog to ear infections, but the most common ones are the type of dog, excessive moisture in the ear because of long hair, swimming and infrequent cleanings with improper solutions.

Causes of ear infections are many, but parasites (ear mites and mange mites), allergies (inhalant, contact, food and drug allergies), bacterial infection and yeast infections or the most common. Determining which of these is the underlying cause can be difficult. Typically an examination of the ear canal is done and a microscopic examination of the ear discharge is performed to determine yeast, bacteria or white blood cells are present. A culture may be required in cases of severe or chronic infections.

Treatment often includes cleaning and flushing the ear canal to remove all the debris, anti-parasitic drugs or drops, systemic antibiotics if the ear drum is ruptured, antibiotic ear drops, anti-fungal ear drops, pain medication and systemic anti-inflammatory steroids to reduce the swelling and ear wax production.

If you believe your dog has an ear infection…

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