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Ear infections are, unfortunately, an all too common issue in dogs. While canines with floppy ears — or a lot of fur around the ears — tend to have the highest risk, any dog can develop them. These infections can cause constant itchiness and leave a dog feeling miserable. Left untreated, they can have significant consequences, such as poor balance and deafness.
Fortunately, there are options for dealing with and preventing ear infections. Here’s what pet parents need to know about dog ear infection treatments.
Several issues can lead to an ear infection. Causes include:
Water in the ear. Moisture trapped in a dog’s ear canal provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Ear mites. More common in puppies, ear mite bites constantly bite the skin, which can cause the dog to scratch and irritate their ears.
Allergies. Some dogs with food allergies may develop infections in both ears. Environmental allergies may also cause issues.
A stuck object. Small objects in the ear canal can cause scratches and irritation.
Immune disorders. Canine lupus, vasculitis, and other immune disorders may cause lesions in the ear flaps, increasing the risk of infections.
There are a few signs that can point toward an ear infection. One of the most common is frequent ear scratching. The dog may shake their head or rub their ear against something solid, such as a pet parent’s leg, the doorframe, or a table leg.
Other symptoms include:
A swollen, red, and warm ear
Dark discharge from the ear
Crusting or scabbing around the ear
A strange, usually foul, odor
Pet parents have a few options for dealing with ear infections depending on their dog’s specific situation.
One of the best ear infection treatments is prevention. Virbac Epi-Otic ear cleanser offers a gentle yet effective solution to keep a dog’s ears clean and healthy. It’s non-toxic, free from skin-irritating chemicals and detergents, and removes dirt, debris, and ear wax from non-infected ears. Pet parents can use it one to two times a week to help avoid infections.
For dogs with minor ear irritation, inflammation, or dermatitis, Zymox ear solution may be a better option. The cleaner contains a combination of enzymes that provide an antimicrobial defense system to treat yeast, fungal, and bacterial infections. It also contains hydrocortisone, which can help soothe skin irritation.
Pet parents should fill the ear canal with the solution, massage the ear gently to work it in, and carefully wipe away the excess. They should avoid cleaning the ears before using the medication or using any other topical ear medications.
In more severe cases, pet parents may need an appointment with a veterinarian. A veterinarian can perform a thorough exam to determine the type of infection present. They can recommend the best course of treatment, including prescription topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, or both.
Generally, most minor infections clear up within a week or two once treatment begins. More severe infections, or infections caused by underlying health conditions, can take months to resolve. In some cases, they can become chronic problems.
Pet parents can take a few other steps to treat ear infections and prevent future ones from developing:
Minimize water in the ear canals. Pet parents should take time to clean and dry their dog’s ears after a bath or swimming.
Trim hair around the ears. Trimming the fur can help minimize the risk of earwax, debris, and moisture buildup.
Treat underlying health issues. Proper treatment for immune disorders can help a dog maintain better overall health.
Schedule regular vet visits. Wellness exams allow a vet to check a dog thoroughly for any concerns, including ear infections.
Ear infections might be common, but that doesn’t mean dogs or their pet parents need to suffer. A good preventative regimen can help reduce a dog’s risk, and recognizing ear infection signs allows pet parents to take action right away.
If pet parents are unsure what dog ear infection treatments are best for their canine, Fuzzy is here to help. Our vets are available 24/7 via our Live Vet Chat to guide pet parents in the right direction. The right treatment can make all the difference.