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Ear Infections in Dogs: Signs, Causes & Diagnosis
The first thing you should know is that ear infections in dogs are quite common. The important thing is to address signs and symptoms as soon as you notice them.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EAR INFECTION IN DOGS
- Dark, stinky discharge
- Crusty or scaly ear edges
- Pawing at the affected ear
- Odours: funky or foul smelling ears
- Persistent head shaking and/or tilting
- Raw ears from scratching
DID YOU KNOW?
Symptoms = Subjective. Experienced by the affected person or animal.
Signs = Objective. Can be detected by someone other than the affected person or animal.
CAUSES OF EAR INFECTION IN DOGS
Because a dog’s ear canal has a vertical ‘L’ shape, it tends to retain fluid which can lead to health problems.
Causes of ear infection include:
- Wax buildup
- Yeast or fungus
- Thyroid disorder
- Excessive cleaning
- Autoimmune disease
- Hormone-related disorders
- A foreign object that becomes lodged in the ear
- Allergies (allergic skin disease and food sensitivities)
- Meningitis (infected membranes around the brain and spinal cord)
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
DIAGNOSING EAR INFECTIONS IN DOGS
As with any health issues, early diagnosis is very important to ensure the problem doesn’t get worse or even dangerous. Often the goal is to prevent the infection from spreading to the middle and inner ear.
WHAT THE VETERINARIAN NEEDS TO KNOW
- Allergies or conditions
- How often ears are cleaned
- If medications were administered
- History of ear infections and details
- If you trim the hair in your dog’s ears
- Symptoms and duration of symptoms
- Foods ingested recently and in general
- Recent activities, e.g. bathing, swimming, spending time outdoors or professional grooming
VETERINARIAN EXAMINATION: POSSIBLE CHECKS AND TESTS
- Tissue culture
- Visual assessment
- Examine tissue sample
- Gentle palpation of the ear
- Examination with an otoscope
- Biopsies and X-rays (severe cases)
IMPORTANT: DON’T TRY TO TREAT YOUR DOG’S EAR INFECTION AT HOME