Is your dog shaking their head, scratching at the ears, have an odorous smell or do you see redness around its ears?
These are the most common signs of ear infections. Ear infections can affect all types of dog breeds from larger dogs such as Bull Arabs and cattle dogs to smaller breeds of dogs such as dachshunds or cavoodles.
What is the cause of ear infections?
The cause of most ear infections is generally by two organisms, yeast or bacteria. Infection causes the ear canal to produce excessive wax, which works its way up the canal and removes debris as it goes. This canal can become inflamed, and the canal will thicken and produce excess wax. Bacteria and yeast can then flourish, causing more inflammation, pain and discomfort in similarity to human migraines.
In other cases, underlying allergies can cause excessive wax build up and inflammation. Grass seeds, prevalent in summer and spring, can also migrate down the canal and cause serious irritation. In this case your vet can usually remove them under a quick sedation.
Ear mites are easily passed between dogs and can often be spotted moving deep in the ear canal. They are intensely itchy and cause a lot of wax production. Again, they are usually easily treated.
If your dog swims, water can often cause build-up of moisture in the ear canal. Ensure their ears are well dried after a splash, and check their ears more regularly for offensive smells, redness or discharge.
How do we treat an ear infection?
When diagnosing an ear infection, we take a swab from the ear canal to examine under a microscope. Different types of bacteria, yeasts and mites can be identified this way. Sometimes with serious infections the sample is sent to the laboratory for testing to see which antibiotics will be most effective. Different organisms may be present, which alters the type of ear medication we treat it with. In some cases, once a dog has had an ear infection it can be recurring due to an underlining cause. A follow up check is always recommended after treating an ear infection to check the medication is working and progress of healing.