Floppy, droopy, straight, big, small, furry, pointy, long, short—canine ears are as diverse as they are adorable. More than an organ for hearing, they indicate their moods, tell us if we have their attention, and let you know not only if he’s contented and jubilant, but also when they are angry or stressed. With so many functions and so many different types, shapes, and sizes, caring for them is essential in ensuring a healthy, happy pooch—but can dogs get ear infections just like any part of their body?
The answer is a resounding YES. And as with any other illness that can strike your precious pooch, ear infections have a multitude of symptoms and signs that you have to watch out for and take note of—a keen eye and an observant human can be the difference between nipping the disease at the bud, and ending up with more complicated and more painful health issues.
What's Wrong With Your Hearing?
Your favorite vet will be able to tell you how much cleaning you’ll be doing with your fur baby—the perfect grooming habit to check for any ear health anomalies that he may be experiencing—but it’s always prudent to check for any unusual symptoms whenever you can.
Dogs get ear infections from:
- Exposure and reaction to allergens
- Ear mites
- Fungus (yeast)
- Problems with the thyroid gland
- Obstruction cause by foreign objects
- Untreated injuries
Not only are ear infections painful and uncomfortable, they can also impair hearing if allowed to progress. Remember how miserable you felt when you had that short bout of ear infection as a kid? Yes, it hurts just as much for our canine friends.
Fortunately most of the signs of ear problems are easy to detect, and not just limited to looking closely inside the ear. You’ll see some unusual changes in your dog’s behavior, physical condition, habits, and overall disposition:
- Insistent scratching of the ear area
- Sensitivity (moving away when touched near the infected ear)
- Head tilting to one side
- Constant head shaking
- Moodiness, and in some cases, unprovoked aggression
- Unusual odor in ear area
- Copious discharge from the ear; may have tinges of blood, mucus, or pus
- Reddened ear flaps, swelling, tenderness
- Fur loss near the ear opening
- Lethargy and loss of appetite
So My Dog DOES Have an Ear Infection—What Do I Do?
If any or all of the symptoms and signs listed above are apparent in your pup, trying out home remedies and DIY treatments may not be the best course to take. A professional medical opinion is crucial to pinpointing the cause of Boo’s, well, booboo, and in turn, pinpointing the right medication to cure it.
If you love little Lola at all, and want the best for her health and wellness, never ever do the following:
- Self-medicate. Giving your dog any medication that is not recommended or prescribed by your veterinarian may not be effective at all against his ear infection, and do more harm than good—we’re talking antibiotic resistance, liver and kidney damage, and a whole lot of pain for your pooch.
- Try to clean severely infected ears. If there’s advanced fungal or bacterial problem in your dog’s ear, it will need a professional intervention. Just take note of all the symptoms that you observe in your dog and don’t forget to relay to the doc so he or she knows what to watch out for, and help with the consultation.
- Don’t delay taking Buster to the clinic once you see any signs of ear infection. It’s one of the most painful health issues your dog will have endured, and you wouldn’t want to prolong his suffering and let his infection get worse.
What’s better than cure?
You got it right. Prevention. It’s cliché, yes, but it’s cliché for a reason—because one, it’s true, and two, it’s easy to remember.
So please always remember that healthy and clean ears mean no infection and no pain (not to mention no vet expenses for you). Getting your pooch used to regular ear cleaning and inspection is an important routine to develop, and it helps to have the right tools to do this chore, too.
- Cotton pads or wipes. Never use Q tips for cleaning your dog’s ears; they can push dirt deeper into the canal instead of cleaning it up and out of the ear.
- An all natural ear cleaner. Coconut oil-based cleansers work best and safest for regular cleaning. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties are not only effective in warding off infection, they also help soothe and relieve allergic reactions and assist in healing wounds and cuts—all without any chemicals or harsh ingredients such as alcohol or bleach (ouch!).
Sounds simple, right? Cultivating a habit of ensuring that Georgia’s ears are in tiptop shape is a part of being a responsible canine guardian, and believe us when we say that saving her from the pains of ear infection will also save you of the pains of seeing her in discomfort—and having to deal with a grumpy pooch and paying for treatment.
Has your canine family member ever had ear infections? How did you and your trusted vet manage and treat it? Tell us about all about it in the comments below!