When it comes to healthy ears they are easy to spot. They're clean, odor-free, pale, pink and have a minimum amount of wax build up. Luckily, the signs of ear disease are equally noticeable: red, swelling at the ear flap and canal, tender to the touch, have a black or yellowish discharge and strong smell. As the problem progresses, your pet may start shaking and scratching their ears, which results in bleeding, a discharge that looks like coffee grinds, or eventual hearing loss.
Causes of Ear Disease:
Some breeds are more susceptible than others. The shape of their ear is an important trait in determining if they will be prone to ear infections. Dogs with pendulous ears, or hairy inner ear flaps, are predisposed to ear infections, as are dogs with allergies.
Infection of the external ear canal is caused by bacteria and yeast. This infection may already be present, but with the right conditions, it'll begin to grow and thrive. High humidity, swimming or a bath creates the best conditions for growth. Many of these infections progress to the middle ear canal, which makes them difficult to clear.
Prevention is the preferred route, and it's easy to do. Clean the ears with Doc Roy’s® Ear Cleanser
before giving your dog a bath. If they go for a swim, clean their ears when you return home. This removes the wax build-up and acidifies the ear canal so bacteria and yeast cannot grow. A weekly or bi-weekly cleaning is all that is needed to prevent infections from taking hold.
When your pet has an ear infection, they will be in considerable pain. Dogs will bang on their ears with their paws, scratching for relief. Vet Basics® Medicated Ear Flush with TRIS
with TRIS is a great option to take the discomfort away and help remove yeast and bacteria. Early use of an ear flush will solve most issues in the ear.
However, when the problem progresses to a middle ear infection, your pet will require ear treatment as well as oral antibiotics to solve the problem. Your veterinarian will need to prescribe the appropriate antibiotic for your pet.
Ear mites are common parasites that are highly contagious from pet to pet. The most common sign is excessive itching from the mites crawling in the ear canal. Mites create dark, crumbly debris that looks like dry coffee grinds. A dark, dry, waxy chunk of debris is often seen in the canal.
Treatment for Mites:
Debris in the ear makes a great place for mites to hide from medication. First use an ear cleaner
to remove the debris - put the cleaner in and let the pet shake out as much as possible. Use a soft cotton cloth or tissue to wipe the ear and repeat the cleaning again. Avoid using a Q-tip, as you will pack the wax into the long ear canal, which requires surgery to remove.
After cleaning, treat the ear with a miticide
product to kill the mites. Mites are easy to kill, but getting the miticide to the bottom of the ear canal may take several treatments. Treat daily for three or four days, then weekly for four weeks to eliminate all the mites, including the eggs that will hatch later. Remember, mites are highly contagious. Treat all the animals in the house, even those that are not showing signs, to eliminate mites from your household. Following up with an ear cleaner will help monitor your pets' ears and keep them clean.
By giving your pets the proper treatments before the infection progresses too far, you can help prevent further problems like deafness and hematoma. Deafness
is usually brought on with age, trauma, loud noise or infection, but some pets can have hereditary or congenital deafness. Once it is diagnosed, clinical deafness is a lifelong condition. Hematoma
, or blood clot, between the cartilage and skin of the ear flap feels much like an “ear pillow”. Infection, mites, fleas, flies or debris build-up causes vigorous head shaking and scratching, which can break the blood vessels in the ear. Surgery is required to remove the blood and secure the ear layers back together. Both of these conditions can be avoided with regular ear cleaning and early treatment of infections.
Ear care is not difficult, and most pets enjoy ear cleaning. High risk activities like swimming, hunting or bathing can intensify an ear infection. When a severe infection happens, see your veterinarian for treatment. The takeaway here is that routine ear cleaning and the occasional ear flush will keep most conditions in check before they require veterinary intervention.
- Dr. B
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical
Return to Articles