Otitis Externa (Ear infection) in Dog, Symptom, Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Otitis Externa (Ear infection) in Dog, Symptom, Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Dogs frequently have ear infections, especially Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, with floppy ears. One or both ears may be affected by ear diseases, which are thought to afflict 20% of dogs.
Ear infections, or otitis externa, are among the most prevalent medical conditions affecting dogs. The tube that connects the outer ear to the eardrum is inflamed, and this is the cause of the condition.
Although they differ from human ears in their anatomy, dog ears occur in various sizes and forms. Canine ear canals are lengthy and have both horizontal and vertical elements. This can result in dog ear infections by forming a J or L shape that catches dirt more readily. In addition to bacteria, yeast, parasites, allergies, and foreign things, there are several more causes of otitis externa. Luckily, you can take several actions to lessen your dog’s experience with these episodes, both in duration and intensity.

Kinds of Infections in the Dog Ears

Deep inside the head, the middle and inner ear are located after the ear canal and eardrum. An inflammation of the ear is called otitis. The three kinds of ear infections are, formally speaking, otitis externa, media, and internal. The most typical is otitis externa, characterized by inflammation of the cell layer lining the external part of the ear canal. Infections in the inner and middle ear canals are referred to as otitis media and interna, respectively. A common cause of these illnesses is the spread of external ear infections. Severe otitis media and internal complications can include vestibular symptoms, facial paralysis, and hearing. For this reason, it’s critical to avoid infections and to seek medical attention as soon as issues emerge.

What Are the Reasons for Dog Ear Infection?

In dogs, the ear canal forms a L shape that tends to hold in fluid because it is more vertical than in humans. It increases the risk of ear infections in dogs. Usually, yeast, bacteria, or a combination can cause ear infections. Ear mites may also transmit infections in pups. 

Bacteria:  In dogs, otitis externa is typically caused by bacteria. The surroundings and the skin might allow them to enter the ear canal.

Yeast:  In dogs, otitis externa frequently results from yeast infections. Under warm, humid conditions, it may overgrow in the ear canal.

Otitis externa in dogs can be brought on by parasites, specifically ear mites. They are earwax-eating organisms that reside in the ear canal.

Allergies:  Dogs may also get otitis externa due to dust, pollen, or food allergies. An increased ear canal’s susceptibility to infection might result from allergies causing inflammation in the canal.

Foreign bodies:  In dogs, otitis externa can also be brought on by foreign objects like foxtails or grass seeds. The ear canal may become inflamed due to foreign objects.

Signs and Symptoms of Otitis In Dogs

Depending on the underlying reason, dogs’ otitis externa symptoms can change. A dry and clean dog ear is indicative of good health. Trim levels of yeast and bacteria are typical in the outer ear canal. Still, when debris accumulates, or the integrity of the standard, the healthy ear canal is damaged, and the yeast and bacteria can overgrow and cause an infection. Still, a few of the most typical signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Shaking of the head
  • Ear scratches and rubs
  • Edema and redness in the ear canal
  • Ear pain when touched
  • Discharge coming from the auditory tube
  • Unpleasant smell coming from the ears
  • Loss of hearing

Dogs may occasionally have trouble with their balance or hearing. Seldom, if a dog has systemic symptoms, canine ear infections might impact their appetite. More cases of otitis media or interna are observed when this occurs. If you follow these signs, you should take your dog to the vet immediately. Immediate detection and intervention can help avoid consequences like irreversible ear canal damage and hearing impairment. Avoid attempting to cure ear infections at home.

Is it Possible to Spread Dog Ear Infections?

Dog ear infections are generally not contagious, though this depends on the reason. But ear mites are incredibly contagious if that’s the reason.

All household pets must receive treatment for ear mites at the same time. Although not always obvious when adopting a new pet, ear mites are relatively frequent in puppies and kittens. However, all the household pets will start shaking and itching soon after you bring your new pet home.

It is rare but possible to culture a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or possibly another infectious infection from an infected ear.

Limiting other pets’ licking of the sick pet’s ears and washing your hands well before handling an animal that has an ear infection is advised. To reduce topical drug absorption, washing your hands thoroughly after medicating or cleansing your ear is also recommended.

How to Keep Dogs From Getting Ear Infections

Essential components of pet care include regular grooming, ear cleaning, and ear upkeep. Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears is especially crucial if they swim frequently.

Using a professional dog ear cleaning product is the finest way to clean. They usually contain drying agents and have been specially developed for dog-friendly pH ranges.

Essential Considerations for Cleaning Dog Ears

⇒Hydrogen peroxide or alcohol should be avoided since they can destroy healthy ear cells.

⇒Avoid inserting cotton swabs into their ears to avoid rupturing your dog’s eardrum.

⇒Cleaning nooks and earflaps with cotton balls or ear wipes is acceptable.

How to Clean Dog Ears:

⇒As directed, apply liquid cleaner to the ear.

⇒While massaging the base of the ears, shut the earflap.

⇒Use a cloth or cotton balls to wipe clean gently.

⇒Take any prescribed medication as directed.

Proper Treatment of Dog Ear Infection

Depending on the underlying cause, dogs with otitis externa may require different treatments. Your dog’s veterinarian will probably need to test for ear debris or take ear scans to determine the best action. Here are some tests that your veterinarian may perform:

♠ In cytology, the minute bacterial or fungal cells are colored using specific dyes applied to a waste sample. The precise cause can be determined by looking at these under a microscope.

♠ Culture/sensitivity testing is used to grow and identify the precise bacteria causing the infection using a particular medium or broth. It also examines the medications to see which ones work best to eliminate the disease.

♠ Blood work may be required to rule out endocrine disorders as an underlying cause.

♠ Skull X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs may be required to determine the degree of inner ear or severe disease.

After determining the specifics of your dog’s ear infection, treatment will probably involve a combination of topical, oral, and surgical interventions. Dogs frequently experience otitis externa, but it is curable. Most dogs with otitis externa will recover entirely with prompt diagnosis and care.


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