Causes of ear infection in dogs
Ear infections are relatively common in dogs. The ear canal of the dog is significantly longer than, for example, in humans, and it does not run straight, but virtually with a bend "around the corner" to the eardrum. Depending on the breed of dog, there are different factors that favour an ear infection:
- Heavy and long floppy ears
- Heavily hairy ear entrances
- Narrow ear canal (depending on breed)
- Strongly bent ear canal
The reasons for an inflammation of the ear canal are also varied, for example:
- Parasites (mites)
- Foreign body
If an allergy, for example a food intolerance, which can generally lead to itching and reddening of the skin in dogs, is the cause of the ear problems, the inflammation usually occurs on both sides. Also with parasite infestation, for example by mites, the inflammation is usually found on both ears at the same time. But also foreign bodies such as grass seeds, grain pits or small lumps of dirt that get into the ear during digging or romping can trigger an acute ear infection, but in these cases rather only on one side.
Symptoms of an acute ear infection
If your dog frequently and violently shakes and scratches his head and ears, this is an indication of a pathological event in the ear. Then you should take a closer look at the ear canal - if the skin is clearly reddened, if you see a discharge from one or both ears or if there is an unpleasant smell, then you should present your dog to a vet as soon as possible. The longer an acute ear infection goes undiagnosed or untreated, the more likely it is to become chronic and thus less curable. And for your dog it is extremely unpleasant and painful. Some dogs change their behaviour due to an unrecognised or untreated ear infection, become anxious, shy or even aggressive, because they simply cannot compensate for the constant itching or the intense pain in any other way.
Treatment of an ear infection
You should never treat an ear infection in your dog yourself. Doing so may make it worse, and the dog will suffer all the longer. If the condition is detected early enough, the vet can start appropriate treatment. If the cause is an allergy, the trigger must of course be found and avoided in the future. If a food allergy is suspected, it may take some time to find the actual trigger and choose a food that does not contain that ingredient. There are many different dog foods that are well tolerated by allergy sufferers, but in extreme cases you may end up having to cook for your four-legged friend yourself. The vet will give you an exact menu for this.
If there is a foreign body in the ear, it must be removed. This is usually done with special ear forceps; your dog may have to be sedated for a short time so that he can tolerate the treatment.
If a mite infestation is suspected, appropriate laboratory tests must be carried out in order to apply the correct medication against the parasites.
If a dog's ear infection is diagnosed too late or is only treated after a long time, the ear canal may already have changed so much that only an operation can help the dog. You should not let it come so far, because it is really very unpleasant and painful for your dog.