Dog Ear Infection - Symptoms Causes and Treatment

The anatomy of the dog's ear plays an integral role in increasing the risk of frequent ear infections. The dog’s ear canal first plunges downward and then takes a horizontal turn inward. The ear structure makes it hard for water and debris to escape the ear canal by moving upwards. This is why canines are more prone to ear infections. Inflammation and ear infections are classified into three primary types - otitis externa (external ear inflammation), otitis media (middle ear inflammation), and otitis interna (inner ear inflammation), of which middle and inner infections are more severe in nature. Sometimes an inner ear infection can spread to the dog’s central nervous system. This should be treated promptly otherwise it may lead to the death of the dog. This article takes you through the common symptoms of this condition as well as its causes and treatment.

Dog Ear Infection Causes

  •  It has been discovered that dogs with floppy ears and more fur inside the ear are more susceptible to an ear infection due to minimal air flow. The minimal air circulation creates a warmer and moister environment, supporting the development of infections
  • The fungus that is often responsible for causing ear infections in dogs is Malassezia pachydermatis. But bacterial dog ear infections are often caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus intermedius.
  •  Sometimes, allergies, particularly food allergies and other allergic reactions triggered by flea infestations may cause chronic dog ear infections. Another common cause of these ear infections is ear mites. Chronic infections may also be induced by hypothyroidism.
  •  Sometimes, this infection is caused by excessive secretion of earwax. Frequent swimming makes a dog prone to ear infections because water may easily enter the dog’s ear canal when swimming. This creates a moist environment inside the ear, producing a good environment for fungal and bacterial growth.

Dog Ear Infection Symptoms

The symptoms of a dog ear infection vary considerably depending on its severity and the affected part of the ear. Since the internal and middle ear infections are often more serious in nature, they produce more severe symptoms. Here are the common symptoms that may be observed during this dog infection:

  • Abnormal Head Placement: Canines suffering from an ear infection often hold their heads at an abnormal angle. It is their way of trying to get rid of the problem.
  •  Shaking of Head: When you have water in your ear, you will always try to remove it by shaking your head. Dogs behave the same way. Whenever they feel something, like ticks, ear mites, water, grass or excessive ear wax produced as a result of ear infection, they shake or tilt their heads in an abnormal way. 
  •  Malodorous Ear Discharge: Abnormal foul-smelling, yellow discharge or excessive ear wax usually indicates an ear infection.
  • Ear Scratching: To alleviate discomfort occasioned by an ear infection, dogs usually scratch their ears using their paws. So if you observe excessive rubbing in this manner, your dog may be suffering from ear mites or bacterial infection.
  •  Inflammation: Another common symptom of an ear infection is excessive redness inside the dog’s ear since it is uncommon for healthy ears to get inflamed without any reason. If the inflammation persists for a longer duration, the infection worsens.
  •  Lack of Balance: When an ear infection reaches its worst stages, a dog may experience a diminishing balance. This occurs when the infection extends to the middle and internal parts of the ear. A mild external infection is less likely to cause balancing problems. So if your dog cannot stand normally, call a vet immediately because the infection seems severe.

Dog Ear Infection Treatment

The treatment of this infection majorly depends on the causes. The best treatment for a mild infection is to maintain proper hygiene, and clean the affected ear using a disinfectant. If it is caused by bacteria, then you can use antibacterial ear drops to cure the condition. For fungal infections, use antifungal ointments. In addition to these medications, some natural remedies, such as garlic and apple cider vinegar, can be used to control fungal and bacterial infections. However, if the symptoms persist, then you better consult a veterinarian. To prevent future ear infections, pet owner should maintain general hygiene and perform regular ear cleaning.