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EAR INFECTION IN DOGS

by Dr Sharad Singh Yadav

Ear infections are a common condition in dogs, especially those with floppy ears such as Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels but also common in all breed. An estimated 20% of dogs have some form of ear disease which may affect one or both ears.

There are three types of ear infections, known formally as otitis externa, media, and interna. The most common is otitis externa, in which inflammation affects the layer of cells lining the external portion of the ear canal. Otitis media and interna refer to infections of the middle and inner ear canal respectively. These infections often result from the spread of infection from the external ear. Otitis media and interna can be very serious and may result in deafness, facial paralysis, and vestibular signs. That’s why it’s important to prevent infections and seek early treatment when problems arise.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections

Some dogs show no symptoms of ear infection aside from a buildup of wax and discharge in the ear canal. But ear infections often cause significant discomfort and affected dogs may show signs such as: head shaking, scratching at the affected ear, dark discharge, odor, redness and swelling of the ear canal, pain, itchiness, crusting or scabs in the ears.

Ear Infections Causes

The canine ear canal is more vertical than that of a human, forming an L-shape that tends to hold in fluid. This makes dogs more prone to ear infections. Ear infections are typically caused by bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both. In puppies, ear mites can also be a source of infection.

Factors that may predispose your dog to ear infections include: moisture, which can create a prime growing environment for bacteria and yeast, allergies, which lead to ear disease in about 50% of dogs with allergic skin disease and 80% of dogs with food sensitivities, endocrine disorders, such as thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, wax buildup, foreign bodies, injury to the ear canal, excessive cleaning.

If your dog is showing any of the common signs of ear infections, it’s important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. Quick treatment is necessary not only for your dog’s comfort (these conditions can be painful), but also to prevent the spread of infection to the middle and inner ear. Do not try to treat ear infections at home and be prepared to provide your vet with a thorough history of the problem. This is especially important for first-time infections, or if you are seeing a new veterinarian.

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