Why Your Dog Might Be Vomiting
No sound will get a dog owner’s attention quite like…
Painful, itchy ears are no fun for our pets. Outer ear infections—otitis externa—frequently occur in dogs. Left untreated or poorly managed, otitis externa can spread to the middle ear (otitis media) and inner ear (otitis interna) and lead to permanent hearing loss. Thus, it’s wise for responsible pet parents like yourself to learn about ear infections in dogs.
For this article, we’ll focus on otitis externa.
Causes, Clinical Signs, and Diagnosis
Otitis externa can occur in one or both ears and is caused by factors that cause inflammation in the ear (e.g., parasites, foreign objects) or worsen the inflammation (e.g., bacteria, yeast). Breeds with long droopy ears, such as Cocker Spaniels, and dogs who have allergies or love to swim are prone to otitis externa.
Constant ear scratching is a telltale sign of otitis externa in dogs. Other signs include:
If otitis externa has gone deeper into the ear, you may notice balance and hearing loss.
To diagnose otitis externa, your veterinarian will first visually check your dog’s ears for inflammation and possible eardrum rupture; sedation will be necessary if your dog’s ears are painful. An ear swab will allow your vet to look for microorganisms like bacteria. Ear X-rays are warranted if your dog has balance or hearing loss.
Dogs with chronic otitis externa often have an underlying condition, like allergies or hypothyroidism. Allergy testing and bloodwork can help identify the underlying cause.
Treating otitis externa involves cleaning and treating the ear and managing any underlying diseases. Clean the ear before administering medication. Here are some ear cleaning instructions:
The medication will depend on the type of infection (e.g., bacterial). An anti-inflammatory is often included to relieve pain and inflammation.
Dogs with painful ears will need to be sedated or anesthetized for treatment. Chronic otitis externa, which can spread deeper into the ear and narrow the ear canal, may require surgical treatment.
Treatment must continue until all infection is gone, which can take at least several weeks and involve periodic rechecks. Treatment for chronic otitis externa may be lifelong.
Preventing Ear Infections
You certainly don’t want your dog getting repeat ear infections. Here are some prevention strategies:
Painful, itchy ears can keep a dog from living a full and happy life. Be proactive about caring for your dog’s ears and seek veterinary treatment if you think your dog has an ear infection.
Ear infections are very common in dogs. Dog health insurance through PetFirst can help you defray the cost of treating and managing your dog’s ear infection. Go online and visit PetFirst today for a free quote!