If your dog is scratching his ears, shaking his head and an unpleasant odor is coming from his ears, he may have an ear infection which can lead to deafness.
What can be done to treat dog ear infections?
This is what we will try to detail by analyzing the causes, diagnosis, treatments and some natural tips.
What causes dog ear infection?
Otitis or inflammation of the ears is a very common condition in dogs and although it is thought to be easy to get it treated, it can lead to a real deterioration in his health if not diagnosed and treated in time.
The causes of ear infections have different origins.
Bacterial otitis is most likely the most common cause and leads to infection and then inflammation of the middle and inner ear.
It can also be associated with a mycosis caused by a yeast, Malassezia, a fungus like Aspergillus or mites (ear mites), all these factors aggravating the bacterial infection.
The other causes are:
- the presence of a foreign body in the ear canal
More often than imagined otitis can also be the result of a skin allergy of food or environmental origin.
Water in the ears that remains after swimming or bathing can also trigger otitis in the middle ear since bacteria like mites enjoy especially humidity.
Signs and symptoms of dog with ear infection
The body responds to ear infection with increased production of earwax in the hope of healing it.
But this process makes the problem even worse.
Symptoms depend largely on the progression of the infection and result in swelling, redness, severe pain and purulent discharge when the otitis is external.
Tilted head, uncoordinated movements, nausea, anorexia, or unilateral facial paralysis indicate otitis of the middle or inner ear.
In the most severe chronic cases, the dog becomes deaf due to a swollen ear canal or when the eardrum is affected.
Signs of inflammation are a greasy, blackish deposit and a foul odor.
The veterinarian’s diagnosis
The first assessment is to rule out underlying conditions that may have led to the ear infection so as to prevent chronic infections.
Then he proceeds to an assessment of the damage and in particular a careful examination of the eardrum.
The vet will therefore proceed to an observation of each ear using an otoscope which is a kind of magnifying glass allowing to highlight a foreign body, polyps or lumps.
He will then take a sample of earwax in order to perform a cytological test under a microscope to determine whether it is mites, fungi or bacteria.
If the infection has spread to depth and a suspicion of middle ear infection dominates, the veterinarian may proceed to x-rays or a scanner to assess the condition of bone and tissue. This procedure is still very rare.
Dog ear infection treatment
Depending on the underlying cause, your vet will suggest different treatment options.
If he notices the presence of a foreign body, of course, he immediately removes it.
For mites, topical treatments are very effective.
In case of fungal or bacterial disease, the ear canal should be cleaned and dried with a suitable product then antibiotic, antifungal and steroid ear drops should be instilled.
If the ears are very sore and the dog does not control the treatment, sedation is indicated to thoroughly clean the ears and begin ear infection treatment.
If sores are present in the ear canal, systemic antibiotic, antifungal and steroid therapy are prescribed.
If the veterinarian suspects an underlying allergy problem, he also initiates anti-allergic treatment.
Otitis treatments are quite long and must be continued over 4 weeks to produce results.
The veterinarian will rely on your assistance with regular ear cleaning and the application of ointment and ear drops for a period of time.
The consequences of dog ear infections
If an ear infection is left untreated, the consequences can be catastrophic.
The dog is trapped in the cycle of inflammation and infection, fibrosis can eventually lead to ear canal collapse and rupture eardrum.
Over time the ear canal ossifies and scars clog it, which prevents the application of care and drugs while blocking renewal natural skin cells.
Hair and earwax accumulate which makes the condition even worse.
Of course, such a case causes very severe pain and can lead to permanent deafness.
Your veterinarian may even need to remove the ear canal to treat pain and pressure.
Preventing ear infections
Here are 6 practical tips you can apply to prevent ear infections in your dog
1- Always first determine the underlying cause of the infection.
Consult a veterinarian at the first signs in order to locate the problem.
2 – Make sure your dog’s ears are always dry.
If your dog likes to bathe or if you give him a regular bath, dry the inside of the ear carefully and very quickly after the bath to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi.
3- Clean his ears regularly.
Use appropriate solutions once a week or once a month depending on the condition.
Avoid natural remedies like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol or vinegar which are caustic to the ear canal if sores are present or if the eardrum is affected.
4- Also avoid going too deep into the ear canal and do not use a cotton swab to do not push the debris any further and thus lead to a ruptured eardrum.
5- Take care of your dog’s diet.
If allergy is the cause of your dog’s ear infections, change his diet, look for hypoallergenic dog food, with Omega 3 and fatty acids to reduce inflammation.
6- If your dog has an overly hairy ear canal that leads to ear infections, consider waxing to avoid infection.
But if this is not the cause of recurrent ear infections, avoid this aggressive hair removal which weakens the ear canal in depth and makes it vulnerable to bacteria.
What are some home remedies for dog ear mites?
There is a gentle and effective natural product for cleaning dog ears:
– Witch hazel and aloe vera
Witch hazel is an astringent that will help remove a lot of debris from the ear. Associated with the aloe vera which has anti-inflammatory properties, this solution will make it possible to gently cleanse the ear canal while treating inflammation and pain.
For a complete cleaning, use a syringe (without a needle!) and pour 2 to 10ml of solution (depending on the size of the dog) into the ear canal then massage the base of the ear to distribute the product well.
Leave it on for a minute or two, then clean the ear thoroughly with a cotton ball.
Repeat this wash several times until the ear canal is clean.
– Coconut oil – Cider vinegar
This solution treats the ailment and is to be applied after the above cleaning.
Associate coconut oil and apple cider vinegar provide antimicrobial and antifungal properties and thus gently treat dog ear infections.
Knowing that most infections are caused by mites, this solution will allow you to get rid of the problem for good.
Mix two tablespoons of coconut oil with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Melt everything then apply 5 to 10 drops of this solution (depending on the size of the dog) into the ear canal twice a day for 7 to 10 days.
Massage the base of the ear after application to spread the solution well.
Apple cider vinegar is well known for its antifungal properties and will directly fight bacteria and mites.
Coconut oil on the other hand has interesting antibacterial properties and will also reduce inflammation.
– Nettle tea – Tea tree essential oil
If apple cider vinegar is not well supported by your dog, then make an organic nettle tea well concentrated, it has antihistamine properties.
This herbal tea will fight inflammation and therefore reduce pain.
Mix 8 tablespoons of nettle tea and 10 drops of Tea Tree oil, apply 5 drops in each ear 2 times a day for 5 to 10 days.
Massage the base of the ear to spread the solution well.
Green tea essential oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that will treat the infection in depth.
Solving dog ear infection problems first requires a veterinarian’s diagnosis to know the exact cause and avoid possible complications.
If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, there are appropriate medical treatments and safe natural remedies available.
Maybe combine the two approaches and get rid of this nasty problem for good!
How about you? How do you care for your dog’s ears?
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