Ear Infections in dogs

It is important to maintain clean and healthy ears in dogs, especially in those with longer ears. The signs and symptoms of ear infections are all relatively very similar and so if an infection is suspected, a trip to the vets is necessary. This is because once the cause is determined by various methods of diagnosis; the correct treatment can be given. Incorrect treatments can lead to further, and possibly more severe, problems.

There are various types of ear infections that dogs are able to acquire. The causal factors of ear problems in dogs can include ear mites, bacterial infections, allergies, and yeast infections. The risk of these certain infections occurring can increase markedly if the dog is subjected to poor levels of hygiene. If the dog becomes affected by one of the ear problems, it becomes more prone to secondary infections of the ear.

Ear Mites in Dogs

What are Ear Mites?

Ear mites in dogs and cats are very small external parasites which belong to the arachnid family. They are most commonly found in the ear canals of the affected animal and feed on tissue debris and fluids. Ear mites can very easily transfer themselves between dogs and cats and are thought of as highly contagious.

Will Ear Mites Infest My Dog?

Cats are more likely to have an ear mite infestation than dogs although it is suggested that ear mites are the largest cause of ear infections in dogs. Dogs that happen to be more susceptible to these tiny ear mites are those with access to, or living in, areas where there is a low standard of hygiene. Long eared dogs provide the most favourable conditions for ear mites, that is to say their ears are more likely to be warm and damp. As a result, these breeds of dogs are more prone to obtaining ear mites.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Ear Mites?

The signs and symptoms of ear mite infestations are usually initially observed by the dog shaking its head more than is usual and a foul smelling odour being emitted from the inside of the ear. The dog may also be persistently scratching the affected ear or ears. More noticeably, the infested dog might be seen rubbing its head along the ground. In the more severe infections, there will be redness and inflammation. Persistent scratching can cause open wounds which may in turn become infected. The dog may show unwillingness for its ears to be touched and may have a crust-like discharge forming in and around the ear. Occasionally, the blood vessels in the ears may break and lead to haematomas. 

The veterinary will take the signs and symptoms into account and then proceed to make a diagnosis. Ear mite infections are diagnosed by vets following sample taking of the microorganisms within the ear and detecting their presence under a microscope.

What Do I Do If My Dog Has Ear Mites?

If you suspect your dog to have any problems with its ears, immediately take it to the vets. Once an infestation of ear mites has been confirmed, you will be supplied with the appropriate treatment medication. It is of the utmost importance that you complete the course of drugs advised by the vet because if you do not, then the ear mites will readily re-infect the area even if the dog had become symptomless. This is because ear mites have the ability to reproduce extremely rapidly.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Having Ear Mites?

A good level of hygiene should always be maintained and if your dog’s ears ever become moist for whatever reason you should dry them gently as this can help with ear mite prevention. Ear mites are very contagious which means that if you know of a pet which has them, well then you should keep your dog away. Responsible owners should isolate affected pets until they have been fully treated by a vet.

Bacterial Ear Infections in Dogs

Bacterial infections can occur all over a dog’s body including the ears. The signs and symptoms are the same as those for ear mites and so a diagnosis is needed by a vet to confirm the cause of the affliction. Once this is done, the correct treatment may be given.  If the environment inside the dog’s ear becomes favourable, and the dog’s immunity is compromised, bacterial infections can result. Additionally foreign bodies in the ear may lead to an infection from certain bacteria.

Allergies in Dogs Leading to Ear Infections

One possible cause of inflamed, reddish ears and a dark discharge can be an allergy of some sort. Allergies can lead to the inner ear being closed off and becoming warm and moist. As mentioned before, these are ideal conditions for ear mites to thrive in but this is also true for bacteria, fungi and yeast. If this is the case, once the dog is taken to the vet, the causal allergen should be sought in order to prevent further problems. Additionally, any secondary infections from mites, bacteria, yeast or fungi must also be treated. Pain relief is sometimes another part of the treatment programme. Dogs may be allergic to certain types of food, pollen or dust.

Ear Yeast Infections in Dogs

Warm and moist ears provide the ideal environments leading to a yeast infection. Other areas of the body may also be affected by yeast in dogs such as on the paws or around the mouth. Signs and symptoms of yeast infections in a dog’s ear can be known to include inflammation, redness, swelling, crusty discharge and an unpleasant odour. In addition to this, the affected dog may be seen scratching its ears, shaking its head or rubbing the affected areas against the ground. A veterinarian will be able to take a sample from the ear and thus diagnose a yeast infection, if that is the cause. Following this, the vet will provide you with the appropriate treatment for the affected dog.


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