Ear infections are common in dogs, especially those that are active outdoors or if your pet has been spending a lot of time in the water this summer. In fact, ear infections are one of the most commonly diagnosed problems in dogs here at Butte Oroville Veterinary Hospital and we usually expect to see dogs get at one in their lifetimes.
If your pet is shaking his or her head, itching around the ears or tries to rub the ears on different surfaces around your house, you may consider bring your in pet for a potential ear infection.
How do dogs get ear infections?
In our experience, ear infections are very common in dogs that have allergies and dogs that enjoy spending time in the water. Dogs that have pre-existing allergies can get ear infections as a flare up to the allergen during peak allergy season. Pet owners that have pets with allergies should always be on the look out for ear infections!
Water dogs are also prone to these infections, whether it be from swimming in a lake or even sometimes from getting a bath. When water becomes present and stays stagnant in the ear, microorganisms grow in the ear and cause an infection. These organisms will emit a yeasty smell, which is another symptom of an ear infection in most cases.
Can they be treated?
Yes, ear infections are usually very treatable, especially when they are caught early. Once the presence of an ear infection has been confirmed at our hospital, the first thing we do is clean the ear with a gentle cleanser and begin to flush out the infection. We are careful to never use Q-Tips around the sensitive ear infection as they cause extreme pain for dogs and can sometimes cause larger problems. We encourage pet owners that clean dogs’ ears at home to avoid using Q-Tips as well.
The cleaning process is usually a relief to pets as they generally start to feel better once that build up is cleared out. The staff is diligent about making sure the cleaned ear is completely dry and then administers a prescription medication, which is usually sent home for pet owners to continue for a few days. A recheck is generally recommended to ensure that no additional medications are required and the ear is back to normal again. When medications are properly administered at home, ear infections usually clear up in a matter of days.
Unfortunately, there is no other way to treat an ear infection than to seek medical treatment. If you wait too long or ignore the symptoms, not only will it be painful for your pet, there is a chance that the ear infection could cause a larger medical issue or affect your pet’s longtime hearing.
In the worst cases, we have to put dogs under anesthesia to completely clean out in the infection and have to implement tubes and drains to flush out the infection as it has gone well into the ear canal. These cases are more serious (and expensive) and most of the time could have been treated in a simpler way early on in the infection.
Should your pet display the telltale signs of an ear infection by shaking their head, itching the eyes or showing general signs of discomfort when you scratch the ears, seek veterinary care immediately. When identified early, Butte Oroville Veterinary Hospital can help provide tips, care and medication for these common infections.