Eye on your dogs health, ear infections

Ear infections not only cause dogs pain and irritation, they can cause permanent damage and hearing loss if left untreated. Ear infections are very common in dogs, and are probably among the most frequent conditions treated by your veterinarian. Because dog ear infections do not go away without treatment and neglecting to treat one can lead the condition to worsen, it is important that dog owners be aware of the signs of an ear infection and seek veterinary care if symptoms are evident.

A dog suffering from an ear infection will usually show certain types of outward behavior in reaction to the ear pain and irritation. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, it is a good indication that you should have him or her evaluated by your veterinarian:

-scratching the ear(s)

-presence of ear discharge

-shaking or tilting head

-swelling and/or redness in the ear area

-foul odor from the ear

-pain or sensitivity in ear area

Some symptoms may be caused or worsened by the dog’s reaction to the ear infection. For instance, an infection may cause the dog to repeatedly scratch the ear, which can prompt the development of a secondary infection. An untreated infection in the outer ear, which would generally be the most easily treated, can advance into the middle ear, which is more serious. Excessive head shaking can also lead to other health issues such as broken blood vessels. If you suspect an ear infection in your dog, it is recommended to seek medical attention sooner than later to constrain the severity of the infection and prevent other potential problems.

The underlying cause of an ear infection in a dog determines the type of treatment needed. Though there are several issues can be the root cause of ear infections, including ear mites, matted hair in the ear canal, or the accumulation of wax, ear infections are generally categorized in one of two ways – bacterial or fungal. Bacterial ear infections are caused by an excess of bacteria, which thrive particularly well in environments of high moisture and low airflow. This is one reason that a physical obstruction can lead to the development of an infection. Fungal infections include yeast infections, a very common cause of ear infections prompted by an overgrowth of yeast. Without treatment, fungal infections can be spread to other parts of the dog’s body. An examination by your veterinarian will determine what type of treatment is needed for your pet.

Some dogs experience chronic ear infections that are frustrating and costly to their owners. Chronic ear infections can be caused by underlying allergies or other health conditions. Dog breeds with dangling ears such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels are particularly prone to ear infections.

Usually, ear infections in dogs can be easily cured with the right kind of treatment. Many veterinarians recommend properly cleaning your dog’s ears on a regular basis, or having regular professional cleanings, to help identify the symptoms of an ear infection as early as possible.