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Listen Up: Dog Ear Infection Information You Need to Know!

If you thought ear infections were something that only affected people, think again. In fact, dogs are far more prone to ear infections than we are, because of the shape of their inner ear, and because they can't tell us when things start hurting, infections can become very painful and problematic before we notice them. Here's what you need to do to prevent, identify and treat an ear infection when your dog has one.

Prevention IS Better Than Cure

The first thing you need to know about ear infections in dogs is that preventing them is ALWAYS better than curing them. So, while you might not be able to prevent your dog from getting an ear infection this time, there are steps you can take to avoid them in future. Here are a few preventative tips:

  1. Avoid getting moisture in your dog's ears - including when it's bath time! Hold your hand over their ears while bathing or doing any other water related activities. Water and moisture can cause yeast growth, and that can cause a serious problem!
  2. Dogs with allergies are more likely to get ear infections (much like humans!), so if your dog is a sniffer or sneezer, and you suspect they've got allergies, get them diagnosed and find an effective treatment!
  3. Underlying conditions like endocrine or thyroid problems can also make your dog more prone to ear infections, so make sure your dog goes to their regular vet checkups, and if anything else seems off, mention it to your vet when you speak to them about the ear infection problem.
  4. Injuries and wax buildup can also cause ear infections in dogs.
  5. Foreign bodies in the ear, as well as excessive cleaning of the ear can also cause ear infections.

As you can see, there are many, varied reasons why dogs get ear infections, but the golden rule is to be extra careful with your dog's ears!

Cleaning your dogs ears will help, and there are commercial dog ear cleaning solutions and kits available. If in doubt, talk to your vet about a product they recommend, and always follow manufacturer's directions carefully.

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infection In Dogs

Once you know the signs of an ear infection, they can be quite easy to spot. If your dog shows any of the following signs, there's a chance he needs a trip to the veterinarian:

  1. Scratching the affected ear - many dogs do this much more gingerly and with less vigour than they normally scratch!
  2. Repeated shaking of their head.
  3. Ear infections in dogs often produce an unpleasant odour, and there may be some discharge from the ear.
  4. Redness, swelling or scaliness in the ear are all signs that something is not right too.

Diagnosing Ear Infections in Dogs

If you suspect your dog already has an ear infection, you will need to make a trip to the vet. Most ear infections will need medical treatment of some kind, and the longer they are allowed to continue, the harder they are to treat.

Your vet will ask how long and which symptoms you have observed, and, if they aren't already aware of any underlying conditions, will ask about your dog's general health and underlying conditions. They'll ask about grooming related issues, including trimming ear hair and cleaning ears, and will want to know if your dog is on any medication that might be contributing to the problem.

Your vet will also want to know if your dog has had a history of ear infections. Dogs that are prone to ear infections (and in particular floppy eared breeds) are more likely to have recurring infections.

Finally, your veterinarian will take a look inside the ear using an otoscope, and might take swabs to identify the cause of the infection. If your dog is in a lot of pain, this may require sedation, as some dogs will not allow inspection of their ear while it is infected.

Treating Ear Infections In Dogs

During the visit to the veterinarian, your dog's ears will be properly cleaned, and your veterinarian will probably give you cleaning solution and or topical medication, along with instructions for home use. In very severe cases, they may also give you antibiotics or anti inflammatory medication to give to your dog. It's important to ensure that you follow these instructions closely, to prevent repeat flare ups of the infection.

Some dogs may have very severe or recurring infections that may require surgical intervention, but this is usually the very last resort, and is a very rare occurrence.

In most cases, if you follow the doctor's orders, your dog's ear infection should clear up within a week or two, and once it does, take extra care to prevent it from recurring!

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