Anyone who has had an ear infection understands how painful this is. But ear infections in dogs are common, with one in every five dogs suffering from this problem. This means that when an owner knows what to look for and seeks help quickly, it’s music to a dog’s ears.
Mention 'infection' and most people's first thought is bacteria. Of course, while bacteria are a common cause of ear infections, they are not the whole story. Spare a thought for yeast infections, which are also common because all skin plays house to yeasts that make up its normal flora and fauna. Then if things get out of balance, this allows the yeast to set up camp as an ear infection.
Other causes of infection are bugs—literally—such as ear mites. These little fellows are easily passed between pets and like to be shared around. And then there are problems such as a foxtail worming its way down the ear canal, causing irritation and setting up infection. So please hear the message that it's important to visit the vet at the first sign ofdog ear infection symptoms. They can work out what's driving the problem.
Did you know that they are named by which part of the ear is infected?
Although there are many different bacteria, yeasts, and mites that cause the actual infection, the infection is put into a category according to location (e.g., otitis externa, otitis media, or otitis interna). But don't be fooled by the fancy language, because this is simply a way of nothingwhere the infection is.
For starters, let's demystify 'otitis.’ This simply means ‘inflammation of the ear.’ Externa simply means ‘external,’ media the ‘middle,’ and interna means ‘internal.’ So the three types of ear infections in dogs are:
But don’t get too bogged down in the technicalities, because otitis externa is way more common than the other types of ear infection and what we're concerned with here.
Anyone who wonders why their furry friend seems plagued by dog ear infections should read on.
There's a common expression about letting air get to a wound. These wise words reflect the fact that many bacteria hate exposure to air and do the bug equivalent of shrivelling up and dying.
Those four leggers with prick ears, such as Frenchies or Boston Terriers, have wonderfully air-conditioned ears that discourage bacterial growth. But the opposite is true of dogs with floppy ears, such as Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, or Labradors. Those gorgeous velvet ear flaps cover the entrance to the ear canal, making it warm and airless—which is exactly what most bacteria need to thrive. Thus, drop-eared dogs tend to get more infections than other breeds.
A big risk factor for some dogs is allergic skin disease. Don't forget the ear canal is lined by skin, so if this becomes inflamed because of an allergy, it is then less good at fighting off infection.
Getting water into the ear canal is a double whammy. Firstly, the water weakens the skin's natural defences, and secondly it makes for a more bug-friendly environment. Ta-dah! Instant ear infection.
Following on from swimming, just as bad is cleaning ears with water or a productnot designed for use in dogs. These damage the skin and do more harm than good.
Grass awns or foxtails can find their way into an ear canal, cause irritation, inflammation, and infection.
Last but not least, the hot potato of hairy ear canals. There is much debate if hair in the ear canals contributes to infection. Long story short, plucking can do more harm than good… so unless the vet advises ear plucking, leave those hairy ears alone.
How does an owner know if their dog has earache? What are thedog ear infection symptoms?
A top tip for anyone that isn't sure if their dog has an ear infection is to compare one ear with the other. This is because an infected ear often looks redder and more swollen than the normal one and confirm any suspicions. And of course, any owner that spots signs of dog ear infection symptoms should visit the vet as soon as possible.