Chronic dog ear infection can be a real headache, both for pet and owner. The most common kind of dog ear infection found is otitis externa, or outer ear infection. More uncommon are otitis media, or middle ear infection, and otitis interna, or inner ear infection; these are considered to be serious conditions.
+ Otitis externa is an acute or chronic inflammation of the top skin layer of the external ear canal.
+ Otitis media and interna are severe inflammations of the middle and internal ear structures. They generally come after an outer ear infection, or they may be caused by a foreign body embedded in the ear. Both these infections can lead to loss of balance or even deafness in the dog.
What are the causes of dog ear infections?
The causes of dog ear infections are just as numerous as the risk factors. Your veterinarian will be able to identify your dog’s possible triggers and provide tips to help prevent the recurrence of infection. You may have to watch out for the following factors:
- Food or environmental allergies
- Parasites (such as ear mites)
- Bacteria (such as E. coli)
- Yeasts (such as Malasseziadermatitis)
- Foreign bodies or foxtail grasses
- Excessive swimming
- Problems with the glands that produce earwax
- Aggressive or overly frequent cleaning of the ears
- Systemic or cutaneous diseases
Predisposition for dog ear infections
It is also important to know that certain breeds are more susceptible than others to dog ear infections. They include breeds with pendant ears (also known as drop ears); with very narrow ear canals; or with ears having a lot of hair in the canals.
What are the signs of dog ear infection?
Here are the main signs that a dog is suffering from an ear infection:
- He frequently shakes his head or tilts it to one side
- There is pus in his ears or they smell bad
- He tends to scratch his ears, especially around the external area
- He may become inactive, due to intense pain
- There is black or dark discharge from the ears
- There is a buildup of dark brown earwax in the ears
If you notice that your pet presents one or several of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. He or she will examine the animal’s ear canals to identify the type and the quantity of discharge and check for the presence of parasites or foreign bodies. After concluding the exam, the veterinarian will instruct you on the best course of treatment for your dog’s ear infection.