Does Your Pup Have A Sore Ear? How to Treat Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections are a common issue in dogs that can have serious consequences if left untreated. Our Ventura vets share some signs that your pooch might have an ear infection and what you should do.

Your Pup's Ears

Due to the shape of their ear canals, dogs are more prone to ear infections than people, especially if they spend a lot of time in the water or have long floppy ears. It is very easy for moisture to become trapped in their ears which creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and create an infection.

Taking a little extra care with your pup's ears can prevent them from becoming infected. If an ear infection does develop, it can usually be quickly and easily resolved by seeing a vet as soon as possible. If you notice signs of an ear infection, don't let it go untreated or wait for it to resolve on its own. Ear infections in dogs can progress to more severe symptoms and cause pain, balance and coordination issues, and rarely, facial paralysis. 

Causes of Dog Ear Infections

While bacteria are the most common cause of ear infections in dogs, yeast, fungus, and ear mites can also cause painful infections. In other cases, an ear infection could be caused by foreign objects in the ear, trauma, tumors, or polyps. 

There are three types of ear infections that can occur in dogs depending upon where the infection has occurred:

  • Outer ear infections (otitis external)
  • Middle ear infections (otitis media) 
  • Inner ear infections (otitis internal) 

Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs

As in humans, ear infections can be very painful or uncomfortable for your pup. If your dog shows any of the following symptoms an ear infection could be the culprit. Contact your vet as soon as possible to book an appointment; early treatment of ear infections can help prevent more severe symptoms and reduce the chances of complications. 

If your pup is suffering from an ear infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pawing or rubbing at the ear
  • Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
  • Odor in the ear
  • Redness inside of the ear
  • Head shaking
  • Tilting head
  • Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
  • Swelling of the ear

If your dog's ear infection is more severe you may notice other symptoms such as:

  • Indications of hearing loss
  • Loss coordination or balance
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Walking in circles

Treatment for Ear Infections in Dogs

Treating ear infections in dogs usually consists of your vet cleaning your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribing any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications required. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.

With treatment, early-stage ear infections will usually clear up within a week or two. If your dog's ear infection is more severe or is caused by an underlying health condition, treatment may be more challenging and may take months to resolve. More severe cases could result in chronic ear infections in your dog and increase the chance of repeat infections over their lifetime.

Carefully following your veterinarian's instructions will be essential to clear up your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.

It is highly recommended you book a follow-up appointment with your vet after the course of treatment is complete so they can assess your pup to ensure the infection is completely cleared up and repeat treatment is not need it. 

How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting an Ear Infection

At Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) in Ventura we believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent ear infections it is important to keep your dog's ears clean and dry. Talk to your vet about the best cleaning solution for your pup and take the time to give your dog a weekly ear cleaning. It is also a good idea to dry your dog's ears if they have spent time in the water. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pooch is displaying symptoms of severe ear infection such as loss of balance or unusual eye movements it could be a pet emergency. Contact our Ventura vets immediately.

Vet inserting ear drops into the ear of a small brown dog

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