Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections are among the most common health problems in dogs. They are also very frustrating and demanding to treat. Some breeds like spaniels, retrievers, Shar Peis and terriers are more prone to the disease. However, the prevalent allergy-related ear infection is not breed selective and can affect many erected ear breeds (Shepherd, Akita etc.).

Although swimming and other causes of excess moisture in the ear canal contribute to infections, most occur without any obvious reason. Ear infections tend to be chronic. They create constant pain and discomfort and can cause irreversible changes in the ear.  The wall of the ear canal undergoes permanent thickening and calcification. Narrowing of the canal lumen contributes to discharge accumulation and bacterial proliferation. Eardrum perforation, deafness and inner ear infections are common. 

If you notice odor, ear discharge, head shaking, scratching or crying in pain, you should suspect ear infections. Early treatment and health maintenance of affected ears help prevent these complications and alleviate the pain. Because of the chronic or recurring nature of the problem, long-term treatment is often required. Advanced cases may need systemic medications as well as local treatment. Non-rewarding medical treatment and constant discharge and pain may be resolved via surgery. Successful treatment of the underlying disease, i.e. allergy, metabolic anomaly, foreign body or other, usually leads to resolution of the ear problem. 

Blood tests, x-rays, skin scraping, ear swabs and bacterial cultures are some of the needed diagnostic procedures. 

Remember, the forever-lasting ear infection needs a forever-lasting care. It is very important to keep up with ear care and adhering to the doctor's orders. Most dogs require periodic ear flushing and antibiotic ointment application to contain the infection and stay comfortable. Neglected ears always flare-up and deteriorate, ending up in undesirable complications and unnecessary pain.

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