Ear infections! So common, but so frustrating! Ear infections are the second most common problem we veterinarians see in dogs (after dental disease which gets first place).
Why do dogs get ear infections? They have LOOONNNGGG outer ear canals. This is the area between the ear opening and the ear drum. It is a dark, warm, moist area – perfect for yeast and bacteria to grow. (In the ear model in the picture, this is the whole long tube of vertical canal and then where it turns to horizontal canal right up to the ear drum).
Some underlying medical issues like allergies can increase the risk of ear infections. Allergies can cause the skin lining the inside of the ear canal to get inflamed, red and swollen making it even easier for yeast or bacteria to move in and take over.
Ear infections can be hard to treat because we are treating an area we can’t see or reach. Also, the swollen ear canal starts to close off and then it is even harder to get medicine where we need it. So, it is very important when you are prescribed medicine to put in ear dog’s ear to make sure you put in enough that it will run down and fill the whole canal, not just treat near the opening of the ear.
We have a variety of medications that may be used in your dog, cleaners, ointments, and sometimes medications by mouth are used depending on the type of infection (bacteria or yeast) and the amount of internal swelling. We also have some new extended release treatments that can be applied at the clinic and can last for weeks.
It is important to recheck ears after treating because often the upper canal is healthy, but yeast or bacteria is still hiding in the deep part of the ear canal. In that case, treatment needs to be continued for a longer period of time. Needing repeated treatment is common for ear infections.
So, if your dog’s ears smell bad, are red, or if they are shaking their head or seem uncomfortable – get them in so we can get them feeling better!