Part of caring for your pet is being on the lookout for signs that something may be going on with their health. Those signs may be different from symptoms of the same condition in humans. For example, have you ever noticed your dog shaking its head or repeatedly scratching its ears? This behavior could signal an ear infection, also known as otitis. Dogs are even more prone to ear infections than their owners due to the shape of their ear canals. In fact, dog ear infections are one of the most common reasons for a visit to a veterinarian.
A veterinarian will determine what type of ear infection your canine companion has, and that will determine the appropriate treatment. There are three kinds of dog ear infections; otitis externa (outer ear), otitis media (middle ear), and otitis interna (inner ear infection). The most common type of ear infection for a dog is otitis externa (or outer ear infection).
Ear drops are often used to treat animals with chronic ear infections. These medications are applied directly into the ear. Some are administered multiple times a day and some are long-acting medications that are administered once by your veterinarian. Many are a combination of an antifungal, corticosteroid, and antibiotic. Examples of these medications include:
Over-the-counter NSAIDs such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen) and products containing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) should never be given to dogs, as they can cause serious health issues. NSAIDS are not typically used in combination with corticosteroids due to risk of stomach ulcers when these two types of medications are used together. Because corticosteroids are a common part of combination ear medications, it is important to only use canine NSAIDs after recommendations from your veterinarian. Examples of NSAIDs that are safe for dogs and available through a veterinary prescription include:
Ear infections are common conditions in dogs, especially those with floppy ears such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. An estimated 20 percent of dogs have some form of ear disease, which may affect one or both ears. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the length and severity of these episodes for your dog. There are even several over-the-counter remedies.
The canine ear canal is more vertical than that of a human, forming an L-shape that tends to hold in fluid. This makes dogs more prone to ear infections. Ear infections are typically caused by bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both. In puppies, ear mites can also be a source of infection.
Be prepared to provide your vet with a thorough history of the problem. This is especially important for first-time infections, or if you are seeing a new veterinarian. Your vet will want to know the following:
If a pup lives in your home, it's a good idea to get familiar with the signs of canine ear infections. It's a common condition that affects up to one in five dogs, according to the American Kennel Club, and left untreated can lead to scarring that narrows the ear canal. In severe cases, a dog ear infection can even cause deafness. But the good news is that these infections are easily treatable and, in many cases, preventable.
"Ear infections in dogs develop when the skin surface becomes unhealthy," says Emily Pashaian-Grant, DVM, medical director of VCA Sylvania Vet Animal Hospital. "So the best way to prevent ear infections is to find the root cause of the condition. That way you can avoid or treat whatever is triggering the problem."
Like people, it's normal for dogs to have a collection of microorganisms that live on the surface of their skin (called a microbiome). Most of the time, these germs are harmless. But, Grant says, if the normal skin barrier is disrupted in some way and becomes irritated and inflamed, it gives germs the chance to grow unchecked. "Ear infections are the result of an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, or a combination of both," she explains.
Ear mites are microscopic bugs that can infest your dog's ears. They spread from animal-to-animal or your pup can pick them up from simply lying down outdoors. They don't bite, but their presence irritates the skin in your dog's ears and makes them itch like crazy. Because they inflame the skin, ear mites in dogs can lead to ear infections.
Bacteria and yeast flourish in moist, dark areas, Grant says. So dogs that have floppy ears (think: hounds and spaniels) are more likely to develop ear infections. Air can easily get into upright ears and keep them dry. But ears that flap down trap moisture, which encourages germs to overgrow. Also, puppies in a litter can get ear infections from licking and pulling on each other's ears, explains Grant.
Allergies are usually the main culprit in recurring ear infections. If your dog has multiple ear infections, it's time to consider allergy testing, Grant says. According to the AKC, 80% of dogs with food allergies and 50% of dogs with environmental allergies develop ear infections.
Ear infections are painful for pups. So you'll likely see your dog scratching at his ears or shaking his head. Other symptoms include red, irritated skin inside the ears and brown, yellow, or green discharge. Ear infections can also be super stinky.
"Typically, when it gets to the point of infection, you need prescription medication," Grant says. It's best to see your veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms because ear infections won't go away on their own.
Your veterinarian will take a swab of the ear discharge and look at it under a microscope to see if it's mites, yeast, or bacteria, and then prescribe the appropriate medication. Treatments include antibiotics, antifungals and anti-mite medications that are usually applied to the skin. But if the infection has advanced to the inner ear, your veterinarian may recommend oral medications.
Treatment usually lasts two weeks, but your pooch should have some relief from symptoms within a few days, Grant says. "If it's a one-off ear infection, we won't do anything else. But if your dog gets multiple ear infections, then we'll talk about allergy testing so we can come up with a better long-term plan for the pet. That might mean changing up foods or long-term medication to address canine allergies."
Keeping your dog's ears clean and dry is the most important thing you can do at home to prevent ear infections. Grant recommends cleaning your dog's ears at least once a month. You can purchase a dog ear wash at the store or mix half water and half hydrogen peroxide to make your own cleaning solution at home. Think it'll be impossible to get your dog to sit still? These vet-approved tips will make the ear-cleaning process easier.
But the ultimate way to prevent ear infections that reoccur, says Grant, is to discover and treat the underlying cause, which is most often allergies to proteins in food or to things like dust mites or seasonal allergens. Treating what triggers your dog's ear infections provides a long-term solution that leads to a happier, healthier life.
Dog ear infections can be a serious condition, which may result in hearing loss or facial paralysis. These serious complications make it imperative to prevent infection and seek treatment as soon as symptoms arise in your pet.
Up to 16.5% of dogs will experience at least otitis externa, and complications may involve further development into more serious dog ear infections. Fortunately, there are straightforward steps you can take to alleviate symptoms and minimize the severity of such infections in your dog.
So, what exactly are ear mites in dogs? Also known by their scientific name, Otodectes cynotis, ear mites are tiny parasites that inhabit the ear canals and surrounding skin. They are a member of the Psoroptidae family of mites, which prefer to live on the surface of the skin to source their sustenance, rather than burrowing further inside the skin as some other types of mites are prone to do.
But how do dogs get ear mites in the first place? Contact with other dogs or cats with ear mites is typically what causes ear mites to be transmitted in dogs. Ear mite infestations are more common in puppies than older dogs.
When one puppy or dog is infested, the mites can get onto bedding or transfer directly from dog to dog through play and socialising. As dogs like to play together, the mites find it easy to make their move to a new host. Owners should always look for signs their dog has ear mites.
As with all parasites, prevention is better than cure when it comes to ear mites. Simple monthly dosing with NexGard® or NexGard SPECTRA® helps keep dogs healthy by treating and controlling ear mite infestations. As well as giving your dog preventative parasite protection, it is also wise to:
There are different types of ear mite medication, including over the counter treatments such as NexGard® products (available from a variety of physical and online stores), or medicated ear drops which may be prescribed by your vet. Puppy ear mite treatment is usually the same as for adult dogs. It is important to use effective and proven ear mite treatments. You should not use unproven home remedies for ear mites in dogs as they may not be safe or effective. If you have questions about the best ear mite treatment for dogs, please speak to your vet.
When it comes to spotting the difference between dog ear wax vs mites, it takes an informed eye. It is normal for dogs to have a small amount of ear wax. An excessive amount of ear wax can be a sign of ear mites or other ear conditions. It is important to consult with a vet if there is an excessive build-up of wax, or other signs such as redness, discharge, an unpleasant odour, itchiness or head shaking.
The good news is that there are highly effective treatments available for ear mites in dogs. A single dose of NexGard® or NexGard SPECTRA® is highly effective at treating ear mites in puppies and dogs. Dogs with ear mites may develop secondary ear infections which require additional treatment. If ear irritation persists, always consult with your vet. 781b155fdc