Chronic Ear Infections

Is Your Dog Suffering From Chronic Ear Infections?

Chronic ear infections can cause your dog a lot of discomfort and pain, as well as resulting in frustration for you as you try to find a solution. If your dog has had more than one ear infection, or even if they have just been diagnosed with their first, it's important to think about the causes and consequences of chronic ear infections and find a veterinarian who can take care of the problem.

Here's what you need to know about chronic ear infections in dogs so you can make your dog comfortable.

OKC Vet Campus - dog getting his ears checked due to getting chronic ear infections.

Symptoms of Chronic Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections may start out as being itchy or uncomfortable, but they quickly progress to becoming painful. Dogs may try to scratch at their ear or encourage you to do so and then yelp or otherwise react painfully. Shaking the head is another classic symptom of an ear infection in dogs.

As the infection progresses, you'll notice a foul odor coming from the ear. The area around the ear may seem damp, and depending on how much hair is around the ear you may or may not notice discharge. Dogs with chronic ear infections may have some improvement from time to time if triggering causes like allergies come and go from the environment, but most dogs with chronic ear infections require treatment to recover.

Which Dogs Get Chronic Ear Infections?

Ear infections in dogs are quite common. Any dog can have chronic ear infections, but they’re more likely in breeds or mixes with large, floppy ears or excessive hair around the ears. Rottweilers, cocker spaniels, poodles, and scent hounds all tend to be prone to ear infections.

Two other elements of which dogs might get ear infections is lifestyle and underlying conditions. Dogs with allergies or skin conditions may be more likely to suffer from ear infections. Dogs that are often in damp environments, especially dogs that go in and out of the water frequently, are much more likely to get ear infections. Owners can help by drying the ear thoroughly after going in the water, but these dogs are still more likely to get infections than dogs that don’t often get wet.

Diagnosing and Treating Chronic Ear Infections in Dogs

If your dog has chronic ear infections, you've probably tried some treatments to relieve the problem. After all, dogs suffering from ear infections are extremely uncomfortable, and most owners strive to relieve that discomfort. However, diagnosing and treating ear infections in dogs isn't always straightforward.

The symptoms of ear infections in dogs may also point to ear mites. Chronic ear infections can be caused by a variety of bacteria, fungus, and yeast. It’s not uncommon to have mites and multiple bacteria and yeast causing the infection and symptoms. This makes treating ear infections without laboratory testing extremely difficult.

At-home treatments attempt to treat all the possible causes of the symptoms at once. This leads to your dog being unnecessarily exposed to medications that may have side effects. Furthermore, at home treatment can't determine underlying causes. There are a number of things that could be resulting in your dog's chronic ear infections, including allergies, a foreign body, a tumor, or a polyp. If the underlying causes aren't addressed, treatment for the ear infection will not be successful long-term.

It's essential that a veterinarian checks to see if the eardrum is intact before any kind of treatment is prescribed. Some medications can even cause loss of hearing if they are administered to a ruptured eardrum. Many people are surprised to learn that their dog has a ruptured eardrum, but it is actually quite common in dogs with chronic ear infections. When veterinarians are determining how to treat chronic ear infections, the first step is to determine what kind of medication and treatment protocol is safe, depending how advanced your dog's ear infection is.

If you think that your dog is suffering from chronic ear infections, it's essential that you take them to a quality veterinarian with sophisticated testing equipment and in-house Labs, such as OKC Vet Campus. In-house labs allow veterinarians to learn about the nature of the infection and adjust treatment quickly. Labs can be sent back as your dog is being treated to determine whether the treatment is working.

This system saves you and your dog from wasted time on medication protocols that aren't working for your dog’s specific infection. If you have been dealing with stubborn chronic ear infections in your dog, and you're frustrated with treatments that don't work, it's time to bring your dog to a veterinarian who can systematically treat ear infection and any underlying causes until your dog is comfortable.

How to Prevent Chronic Ear Infections

Perhaps your dog has had an ear infection or two, and you're worried about chronic ear infections being an issue for you. If your dog is of the breed and ear shape that tends to be prone to chronic ear infections, such as a scenthound or cocker spaniel, you may be even more concerned about this being a lifelong issue for your dog. You'll be glad to know that there are things you can do to prevent your dog from suffering from ear infections:

Develop a Strategy With Your Veterinarian

The first step to keep your dog’s ear infections from developing is to talk to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may suggest a regular ear wash that can stop infections from taking hold before they began. Perhaps a low dose of an antihistamine everyday or at the first signs of infection can prevent underlying allergies from triggering ear infections.
The strategy that works best for your dog will likely be unique. It may take some tweaking to find a solution that works. Your veterinarian can work creatively with you to find a treatment protocol that works well for you and your dog.

Eliminate Unnecessary Hair

If you have a dog with hair that grows continuously instead of shedding, getting rid of excess hair in and around the ear is the first step to preventing ear infections. Your groomer or veterinarian can use a special powder to numb the hair in the ear at the base so that it can be gently removed. This kind of hair removal can't be done when there's an active infection, but it's an excellent thing to do when your dog has recovered from an infection, to prevent the ear from being infected again.

Hair around the base of the ear can be removed at any time using clippers. Regardless of what haircut you like for your dog, it's important to have relatively hair-free areas around the base of the ear so that moisture and humidity doesn’t accumulate in the ear. Your groomer can talk to you about a style for your dog that will look great while helping to prevent ear infections.

Keep the Ears Clean and Dry

Ear infections are less likely to develop in ears that are kept as clean and dry as possible. Dogs that are prone to ear infections should have their ears cleaned regularly with a medicated ear wash that your veterinarian can prescribe. If your dog's ears get wet throughout the day or if your dog is prone to oily ears naturally, it's a good idea to gently wipe them dry with a soft cloth.

When you give your dog a bath, make sure water doesn't go in the ear canal. A groomer can show you how to hold the base of the ear to avoid getting water in it, or they can just take care of grooming your dog so you don't have to worry about it.

Make sure to change your dog's bedding regularly, especially if it tends to get wet because your dog drools. Move the water bowl and any other sources of moisture away from where your dog sleeps so they don’t end up sleeping with their ear in moisture.

Stick to Treatment Protocols

One of the biggest issues that most people have when treating their dog's chronic ear infections is sticking with treatment. Treatment is typically to clean the ears and then use a medicated ointment. This tends to be a messy process, although not painful or uncomfortable for your dog.

When dog owners see symptoms are gone, they're often tempted to stop treatment early. However, stopping the treatment early usually results in the infection coming back, typically stronger than it was before. Therefore, it's very important to talk to your veterinarian before stopping any treatment protocol for chronic ear infections in dogs.

Eliminate Your Dog's Chronic Ear Infections

Ear infections are painful and can lead to serious problems, such as a punctured eardrum and hearing loss. If you dog is prone to ear infections, it's essential to seek out effective treatment as soon as possible. If you've been trying do-it-yourself treatments and they're not working, there's no time to waste in coming into OKC Vet Campus so we can treat your dog’s chronic ear infections and make them comfortable again.