According to Dog Care Knowledge, ear related infections are the leading reason for frequent visits to the vet. A lot of things can go wrong with dog ears that don’t receive the right amount of attention and/or care. There is the smell, the discharges and the pain. This is why dog ear care is something that should be taken very seriously.
You need not wait until your dog starts showing signs of distress before you start paying attention to his ears. There are things that need to be done regularly so that your dog doesn’t get to that point where you really have to be alarmed.
In this article, we will be covering a wide ground as regards dog ear and dog ear care. From dog ear infection prevention (which is basically regular every day care) to dog ear infection symptoms and cure, we’ve got you covered. Just be sure to stick with us and your questions should be answered.
For Proper Dog Ear Care
Ceasarsway gives us some tips to make sure the dog ear cleaning process is a success.
- Positive Reinforcement: Most dogs will not enjoy their ears getting probed and prodded. So you need to go in prepared. Entice him with his favorite treats and chew toys. You could also get him busy playing with his favorite toys.
Just make him enjoy the ear cleaning process or at least let him be able to tolerate it. Because if he doesn’t it is going to be a tough one for you.
- Your Tools: Your fingers have a whole lot to do in the whole cleaning of your dog’s ears process. The reason is you don’t want to make use of a cotton swab or any other pointy instrument. A lot of accidents happen with those things.
You need not be bothered about reach. Wherever your finger can reach is just fine.
Of course you won’t just poke a finger in your dog’s ear and wiggle it around. You could use cotton balls or just wrap gauze around your finger.
If you are bothered about getting your fingers dirty you could wear a glove. Then wrap the gauze around your gloved finger.
What actually does the magic is the rinse. Most people use Hydrogen Peroxide but your vet should be able to prescribe what will work perfectly for your dog. However, alcohol and toxin containing ear rinses will not work.
- Put all your instruments not just where you can see them but where you can reach them. You don’t want to have to leave your dog every now and then. That can make him restless.
Dog Ear Care For Every Other Day
- Regular Vet Visits: There is nothing that beats this. You have to take your dog to the vet regularly for an overall checkup. It’s the vet that can really detect any funny business. This is especially important if your dog produces a lot of ear wax.
- Your vet should have modeled for you how to properly clean your doggie’s ear. It is usually done using cotton ball slightly dipped in hydrogen peroxide.
- Don’t be too enthusiastic in getting out the wax. You don’t have to get it all out. Remove the much you can. You want the wax reduced not totally gone.
- Be careful not to poke his ear with anything; sharp or otherwise. Don’t put any pointy instrument in your dog’s ear.
- You need not clean his ear frequently. Just do it every once in a while. The frequency should be determined by your vet.
- If your dog grows hairs inside his ear, you (or his groomer) will have to pick them out (probably with tweezers) as often as they become overbearing.
Causes Of Dog Ear Infection
- Water: We know that water is a wonderful thing. However, if that water gets into your dog’s ears, it could cause a big problem. The moisture will make his ear canal an awesome breeding ground for bacteria. So what to do?
Try not to give your dog too frequent baths. Aside the fact that it pushes a lot of water into his ears too frequently, it washes away essential oils from his body.
You could read our article on dog shampoo to know more about bathing your dog.
- Fleas and Ticks: If your doggie has a flea and tick infestation it could lead to an ear issue. How will the ticks and fleas get into his ear?
Well, in scratching himself to rid himself of the nuisance, a couple of them get into his ear. And we all know that foreign bodies in the ear are just bad news.
- Allergies: Dogs with allergies are highly prone to ear infections. The reason for this is that the allergies cause parts of the skin to be inflamed (including the ears). And this inflammation encourages the growth of some very troublesome bacteria which could lead to ear infection.
Symptoms Of Dog Ear Infection
If you notice these signs, take your dog to the vet because something is definitely not right.
- Vigorous shaking of the head is usually a telltale sign of a lot of wrong things. And one of those wrong things is an ear infection.
- Scratching could be another indicator of an issue. Sometimes it could be because of fleas and/or ticks. However, if he is particular about scratching his ears or the area around them, then it is most probably an ear infection.
Something related that he could do is rub his ears against something. It could be furniture, the wall or even your leg.
- If you clean out his ears and notice that the discharge is not normal then it is surely an ear infection. Discharge that is yellow, brown or bloody is definitely nowhere near normal.
- If his ears smell then there is a problem. We are not talking about the normal smell of ear wax here. We are talking weird smell. Weird ear smell always means bad news.
- We need not tell you that swollen and red ears are bad news. At this point do not try to manage the situation. Take him to the vet.
- In certain situations he could begin to lose the hair around his ears. It doesn’t necessarily happen in every situation but it could happen. We’d like for it not to get to that point, though.
- And the one we do not want to happen, hearing loss. Hearing loss, especially if your dog is not a senior, is probably a sign that you’ve not be scoring high points on dog ear care. Just like hair loss, we would like it if whatever ear issue doesn’t get to this point.
What Happens When You Don’t Do Well In Dog Ear Care
The saddest thing that can happen is that your dog’s ears get infected.
According to the American Kennel Club there are basically three types of ear infection that can afflict your dog and they include: Otitis externa, otitis media and otitis interna.
This has to do with the external ear. It has to do with any form of inflammation that happens to an animal’s ear from the external ear down to his tympanic membrane.
Otitis externa causes have been classified into primary and secondary. The primary causes are those ones that can bring about otitis externa all on their own. They don’t need help whatsoever.
Most times, dog parents and even vets do not notice the infection if it is just at this point. This could be because the symptoms, at this point, are not really alarming.
Some of the primary otitis externa causes include allergies, endocrine disorders and foreign bodies.
The secondary causes are brought on by an action (intentional or unintentional). That is they don’t just happen, they are caused by external forces.
The good news is, they are fairly easy to treat. Some of them include fungi, bacteria, over cleaning and an overgrowth of yeast.
To prevent otitis externa, it is advised that dog parents learn proper dog ear care. This usually involves proper cleaning (which should be taught by a veterinarian). The frequency of the cleaning is actually supposed to reduce as your dog gets older.
Also, your dog’s ears should always be dry. When he’s just had a bath or a swim, make sure to properly dry his ears and the area around them.
Sometimes the moisture problem is not an external problem but an internal one. What we mean is that sometimes the problem is sweat. So, routinely cut the hairs around his ears if they grow too long. Also, pluck out the hairs that grow inside his ears.
This is the inflammation of ear structures in the middle ear and is quite common in dogs. The occurrence of otitis media is not age specific.
Most times, otitis media is caused by an untreated otitis externa. At other times, it is caused by foreign bodies that get in through the mouth.
If your dog is constantly shaking his head vigorously or scratching his ear, he probably has otitis media.
One sad and twisted thing is that if left untreated, otitis media can turn around to cause otitis externa. So without proper diagnosis, you might end up treating for the otitis externa over and over again.
Furthermore, otitis media could lead to paralysis of the facial nerves which takes the shape of lip droop, ear droop and even nostril collapse.
Your best shot at treating otitis media is doing it early on in the infection. This is because if it stays long enough to be considered chronic, it might not respond to treatments. Or at best, it would after long rigorous treatments.
From all we’ve said about otitis, you might have guessed by now what otitis interna is. Yup, the inflammation of the inner ear. And it is basically caused by an untreated otitis media.
A dog that has otitis interna might exhibit such symptoms as head tilting, falling towards the infected side, uncoordination and even loss of hearing.
Worse still, if left untreated, otitis interna can graduate to more catastrophic issues involving the brain like meningitis and abscesses.
If otitis interna is chronic, your best bet is surgery. And even that might not be enough to reverse the hearing loss. So your best bet is actually early detection. And that’s why we’ve shown you the signs to look out for.
A Visit To The Vet
This is your best bet for proper dog ear care. Your vet is the best person to help you with prevention, detection and cure too.
So, if your dog isn’t exhibiting any signs of ear infection still take him to the vet every once in a while. Your vet should be the one to declare him to be in the clear.
If he is exhibiting any of the signs we’ve listed then rush him to the vet. According to the American Kennel Club, here are some questions your vet might ask:
- How long have the symptoms persisted?
- What’s your dog’s ear cleaning schedule like?
- What does he eat and how often does he eat what he eats?
- Does he have any allergies?
- Is he on any form of medication?
- Has he taken a bath or swum recently?
- And of course, has he ever had an ear infection?
The answers to this questions will inform their diagnosis and will help them decide if further testing is required. So you will do everybody a favor by arming yourself with these answers (if you can) before you go on to the vet.
The saying goes that prevention is better than cure. You’ve seen already that the results of a poor dog ear care could be quite dire. So do your dog (and indeed yourself) a favor by taking his ear care very seriously.
One last thing, don’t try to be a super hero. If you notice any funny business, call in the real super hero. Your vet.