Common dog ear problems

A healthy dog is a wonderful thing. A dog is the perfect combination of loyalty, intelligence, willingness to please, ferocity when needed, gentleness and compassion. Dogs protect us, guide us, and perhaps most importantly, provide loving, unconditional companionship. Yes, a dog is a wonderful friend to have. Since dogs are so great for humans, the least we could do in return is everything possible to keep our furry, four-footed friends healthy. To that end, you should know your dog’s usual level of energy and how much he tends to scratch normally. If your dog seems to be moping around, scratching or rubbing his ear, tilting his head, or if you notice his ear is reddened, warm to the touch, swollen, producing discharge, emitting a foul odor, or losing fur, he may have an ear infection.

There are several different problems a dog could have with his ear. The anatomy of a dog’s ear, with its long, horizontal inner ear structure, is hospitable to bacterial and fungal infections. Not only is the inner ear warm and hairy, but the horizontal shape of the ear canal does not allow moisture to drain efficiently. Also, dogs often have floppy ears covered by an outer flap, which doesn’t allow air circulation. It’s not at all unusual for dogs to get ear infections, particularly in breeds that love swimming. Infections could be bacterial or fungal, and the treatment needs to be specific to the cause. Antibiotics will not help a fungal infection, while fungicides do nothing to alleviate bacterial infections. See your vet for a diagnosis, and follow the prescribed treatment to the letter.

Another common problem in dog ears is the mite. This teeny parasite will set up a colony and make your dog extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, mites are relatively easy to eradicate. And, unlike fungus, having mites does not make your dog more likely to get them again. When they’re gone, your dog has no more chance of getting mites than before.

A common ear problem for outdoor, very active dogs is getting foreign objects stuck in the canal. A piece of grass, with its rough texture, can become securely lodged in the ear and irritate the tender tissue inside. Your dog will scratch his ear and shake his head in an attempt to dislodge the object. If the ear is scratched too much, and the skin is broken, a bacterial infection may result. As soon as you notice your dog showing signs of discomfort, examine the ear yourself. If you are unable to locate the source of the problem, take him to the vet. Never attempt to dig out an object yourself with an implement. If you can pull out a piece of grass with your fingers, do it. But if it looks any more complicated than that, please see a vet.

Dogs’ ears are susceptible to problems, but you can prevent and cure them easily if you are a conscientious, observant dog owner.