Your dog may have an ear infection if you notice a strong, strange smell coming from an ear, the dog is in pain if one or both of its ears are touched or moved, if the dog shacks its head more than it normally does or if the dog rubs one or both ears. You may also notice a yellow or dark colored discharge coming from the dog’s ear or ears and the skin on the ear may be bleeding. If you notice your dog has any of these symptoms, it is important to take it to the veterinarian.
At the veterinarian clinic, the veterinarian will use an otoscope to examine the dog’s ear canal and will also take a sample of the discharge, if there is any, and culture it, to determine the cause of the discharge and the infection, which can be a yeast infection, a bacterial infection or a fungus infection. The cause of a dog’s ear infection is usually water in the ear after swimming, a thyroid condition, allergies, parasites, a tumor or even a foreign body. The information gained by the veterinarian will allow the veterinarian to treat the infection or the cause of the pain in the ear.
After a diagnosis by the veterinarian, the treatment will begin. The infected ear will be cleaned twice a day with an ear-cleaning solution. It is important to use an ear-cleaning solution only, not water or peroxide. Hold the flap of the infected ear and pour the ear-cleaning solution into the ear canal, filling it. Use your fingers and carefully massage the ear canal, this will loosen any debris or wax that may be irritating the ear. Use a tissue and clean the inside of the ear, reaching as far into the ear canal as you can reach with the tissue on your finger. Repeat the ear-cleaning task until there is no debris or wax on the tissue after wiping the ear. If the dog is in pain, the veterinarian may have to do the initial ear cleaning with the dog under anesthesia. This may also be done if the problem is a tick or a foreign object that has lodged itself in the ear canal. Depending on the type of infection the veterinarian diagnosed, an antibiotic or anti-yeast agent to be administered into the ear will be prescribed.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, an ear infection in a dog will usually take three to six weeks to cure. With no treatment, the dog is likely to need surgery to correct a broken earflap or surgery to correct a closed ear canal. This infection could even become an internal infection if it were to penetrate the eardrum. As with most infections, treatment is the best option for the dog and consequently the dog owner.
Most ear infections can be prevented with weekly ear cleaning using an ear-cleaning solution, ear cleaning following any swim the dog takes or removing the hair it there is a tremendous amount of it growing in the ear.