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ear problems in dogs

There are many ear infections and symptoms of Ear Problems in Dogs

Bacterial Ear Infections

Some ear problems in dogs are caused by a bacterial infection, also known as otitis externa. This is one of the most common ear problems in dogs that we treat. The symptoms of a bacterial ear infection are easy to spot so if your dog is suffering from this you might notice:

  • Shaking of the head
  • Excessive scratching at ears and around head
  • A smell from the ears and occasionally discharge
  • Reluctance to let you near its head
  • Aggressiveness if the affected area is touched

Once an ear infection has been diagnosed it can be treated by cleaning the ears and supplying a prescription medication, often antibiotic ear drops of tablets.  

Ear Mites

The next most common ear problem that we come across with our canine patients are ear mites also known as Otodectes cynotis. If your dog is suffering from ear mites you may notice some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Shaking of the head
  • Excessive scratching at ears and around head
  • Brown particles which look like coffee grains just inside your dog’s ear
  • Black or brown waxy secretion

Due to the nature of the symptoms further complications could result in blood pooling as blood vessels in the ear can fail due to scratching and shaking of the head.

This condition can easily be treated with ear drops which are used with an ear cleaner but it’s important that the problem is professionally diagnosed by a vet before the relevant course of treatment can be decided.  

Foreign Objects (like grass seeds)

It may be surprising to know that we also treat dogs who have got something in their ear which shouldn’t be there!

One of the most common foreign objects that cause ear problems in dogs are grass seeds.

This is usually a seasonal problem occurring during the summer months when they have been playing in long grass. The seeds sharp tip pierces the skin getting lodged and causing irritation. The symptoms of this problem include:

  • Vigorous scratching of the ears
  • Shaking of the head
  • A collection of seeds in or around the ear
  • Inflammation in or around the ear

If the seed has become inflamed you may also notice a small amount of blood in your dog’s ear.  

Treating Ear Problems in Dogs

To successfully diagnose and treat problems with the ear it is always recommended to bring your dog to a vet. If your dog is found to be suffering from an ear problem, the best course of treatment for the individual case will be prescribed, which may often be a course of antibiotics.

Because there are so many different types of ear problems dogs can get the treatment varies from topical solutions and wipes to antibiotics and surgery. For example: Vets can conduct simple tests to diagnose a bacterial ear infection and prescribe topical solutions and or antibiotics.

Getting rid of foreign bodies in your dog’s ear, such as grass seed, can include your vet attempting to flush the ears or removing the items surgically while the dog is either under general anaesthetic or sedated. This will be followed with pain relief and antibiotics.  

What to do if your dog is suffering from ear problems

If you think your dog may be suffering from ear problems then the most important first step is to take a trip to your vet. 

Ear conditions are very unlikely to clear up on their own and the longer it remains untreated then the harder it is to clear up the problem. It’s true that some breeds of dogs - ones with long dangly ears such as Springer Spaniels - are more prone to ear problems than others.

Dogs which spend a lot of time in water may also suffer from regular ear problems, as well as dogs with allergies. If your dog is the kind of breed that is susceptible to ear problems or has long ears make it a part of your grooming routine to check their the ears regularly. Keep the ears clean and if you spot a problem contact your vet to see if they think you further investigation is needed.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pets health, contact your local Calder Vets branch.