Dogs rely on their ears and hearing to navigate the world, so when ears are sore or infected, it may result in canine ear aches. Not to mention, it can put a crimp in canine happiness. Otitis means inflammation of the ear and refers to a condition which may develop suddenly or be ongoing. Most cases are confined to the external portion of the ear canal and/or the ear flap and are termed otitis externa. Otitis externa occasionally advances into the middle ear (otitis media), and even more rarely into the inner ear (otitis interna).
Canine Ear Aches | Everything You Need To Know
Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to developing otitis than breeds with erect ears, with more than 80 percent of canine ear problems treated by veterinarians affecting drop-eared dogs. The infection is typically brought on by poor air circulation that promotes moisture in the ear canal conducive to the growth of bacteria, yeast or fungus.
Anything that throws off the normal balance of the ear secretions can result in otitis. This can be caused by something as simple as getting water or soap in the ears during a bath. My Magical-Dawg developed ear problems after playing his favorite game of ?hose tag? and getting water in his ears. Other common causes include a foreign body like a grass seed, parasites like mites or ticks, excess hair or mats in or around the ears common in Poodles and Cocker Spaniels, allergies, or excess wax production.
Signs Of Otitis
Signs of otitis include painful and sometimes itchy ears that may be red, raw, or even bloody if the dog has scratched them. Dogs typically hold the painful ear down, tipping their heads. Excessive shaking or scratching may result in ear flap swelling (hematoma). A bad odor from the ear indicates infection, as does any sort of discharge. Normal wax is light amber; an abnormal discharge is anything different.
- Red, itchy ears without discharge are probably due to allergy but may progress to infection due to scratching trauma.
- An acute bacterial infection is often due to the staphylococci organism, and the discharge will be light brown.
- Chronic bacterial infections may be caused by the proteus organism, and will typically result in a yellow discharge, or they may be caused by Pseudomonas organism characterized by a soupy black discharge.
- Pseudomonas infections are particularly difficult to cure because the organism quickly becomes resistant to antibiotics, and so may require long-term treatment.
- When the infection is due to parasites, a crumbly brown to black debris will be present.
- A buildup of oily yellow wax may be a sign of ceruminous otitis. A thick, dark or waxy discharge characterized by a distinctive musty odor is a sign of yeast or fungal infection.
Otitis media usually results from an ascending infection from the external ear canal, or penetration of the eardrum by a foreign object. From there, the problem can progress into otitis interna, which can cause severe signs and permanent damage.
Signs of nerve involvement, such as head tilt, droopy eyelids or a facial palsy on the affected side, indicate middle to inner ear involvement. Inner ear infections can interfere with balance, and dogs will walk in circles and/or fall toward the affected side. Severe damage from otitis may cause hearing loss.
Treating Ear Infections
Treatment depends figuring out the cause, and with sore ears, sedation is almost always required. Once the veterinarian examines the ears, evaluates samples of any discharge, treatment begins with cleaning and drying of the dog?s ears. If the eardrum is ruptured, some solutions or medications can actually damage the middle ear, and make a bad situation even worse. Wax-dissolving solutions are particularly helpful with dogs suffering from seborrhea.
After the initial cleaning and flushing of the affected ears, most cases can be treated by owners at home. Topical antibiotic ointments and drops, sometimes with steroids to reduce itchiness and inflammation, are generally prescribed for bacterial infections. Medicine is usually administered twice a day for two weeks.
Treatment usually resolves acute otitis within two or three days, but chronic problems take much longer to cure and often recur. If the eardrum is punctured, six weeks or more of treatment may be required to prevent permanent damage to hearing or balance.
Steve Dale shows a video of treating otitis in dogs:
The best way to prevent otitis is to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. Avoid getting water into the ears during baths, and inspect the dog’s ears for grass awns or other debris particularly after rambles through the brush. Your veterinarian may dispense a drying agent or acidifying solution for use in your dog’s ears, particular water-loving dogs that are hard to keep out of the water.
Does your dog suffer from these canine ear aches symptoms? How you discovered it and what you did to treat it, please let us know in the comments section below.