Why Do Dogs Get Ear Infections?

Phoebe Cooper · Oct 31, 2022 · All

Author: Paul Andrews

If you are a dog owner, you have likely asked this question: why do dogs get ear infections so often?

All dogs have the same ear structure, no matter the breed. The canals have vertical and horizontal components shaped like a J or L that can easily trap debris and bacteria. This makes dog ear infections one of the most common illnesses in dogs.

What Causes Ear Infections?

Ear infections in dogs are caused by bacteria entering the ear canal. Besides their natural ear structure, bacteria enter through tears in the skin due to injury, illness, or everyday activity.

Other factors that may make a dog more prone to ear infection include:

  • Allergies
  • Wax build-up
  • Foreign debris and matter
  • Excessive cleaning
  • Endocrine and autoimmune diseases

Can My Dog's Diet Cause an Ear Infection?

If your pet has allergies or other chronic health disorders, its diet can increase the risk of developing a dog ear infection.

So what foods cause ear infections in dogs? Technically, all kinds of food can cause an allergy.

The best way to prevent a reaction is to give your pet a balanced diet and purchase hypoallergenic dog food. Food sensitivities and an abnormal immunological response can cause itchy skin and ears, leading to more severe infections.

Note: Give your dog a balanced diet with the veggies, protein, and fruits it needs for optimum health. Choose hypoallergenic food to prevent itchiness and breakouts.

You can also choose to offer your dog healthy, all-natural treats, chews, and bones. Natural Farm has a wonderful selection of all-natural products that are made using premium beef, pork, and chicken free of chemicals, additives, hormones, and antibiotics. Dogs adore them, and with a vast assortment, Natural Farm has options that are well-suited to most dogs’ unique needs and preferences.

The Symptoms of Ear Infections?

Ear infections can be very uncomfortable for dogs, so they may display signs of distress when they have it. However, some dogs show no dog ear infection symptoms except for a slight discharge or wax buildup.

Check if your dog displays the following signs or behavior:

  • Ear scratching
  • Bad odor
  • Head shaking
  • Scabbing and crusting in the ears
  • Dark discharge
  • Redness and swelling of the ear canal
  • Rubbing the ear on the floor or furniture

Can an ear infection kill a dog? No, but it can cause quite a bit of pain and discomfort.

There are also several types of ear infections:

Otitis Externa (External Ear Infections)

A common cause of otitis externa is bacterial contamination of the ears due to poor hygiene, allergies, foreign bodies, and trauma.

Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infections)

Otitis media can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.

Mastoid Process Infections

These are infections of the mastoid bone behind the ear. They are commonly caused by bacteria and can be difficult to treat.

Acute Otitis Media (AOM)

Acute otitis media occurs when the eardrum becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. In severe cases, the eardrum may rupture, leading to pus in the ear. This type of infection is often caused by viruses.

Chronic Otitis Media (COM)

Chronic otitis media is a long-term condition where the eardrum remains inflamed over time, leading to permanent damage to the inner ear if left untreated. Treatment involves draining the infected area and administering antibiotics.

Note: Most ear infections are not contagious, but it depends on the cause. If dog mites cause your dog’s infection, they can spread to other animals.

What is the Proper Treatment for a Dog's Ear Infection?

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, see a veterinarian immediately to get a precise diagnosis and alleviate the pain and discomfort your pet is enduring.

The vet will need the following details:

  • Diet
  • Recent activities
  • Hygiene (how often you clean their ears and what product you use)
  • Allergies or other medical conditions
  • Recent grooming (trimming and plucking hair from its ears)

Physical exams and swabs will help assess your dog's condition. Other tests can include biopsies, x-rays, and culture samples of the discharge.

Treating Ear Infections

You will likely be given a prescription for topical medication and cleanser that must be applied regularly at home. Your dog may also need oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication.

Use absorbent gauze or ear wipes to apply the cleanser. Keep your dog’s ears as clean as possible, so target the ear flaps and other crevices. This is especially important for dogs with pointy ears.

Once you apply the medicated cleanser, close the ear flaps and gently massage the ball of the dog’s ears. Then you can wipe it clean with a cotton ball or cloth. Once the ears are clean, the topical ointment can be applied to the affected area.

Follow your vet’s instructions on how to clean dog ear infections and return to the clinic for follow-ups.

How Long Will an Ear Infection Last?

Most ear infections only last one or two weeks if the proper treatment is given immediately. However, when there are complications, such as other chronic conditions or severe infections, full recovery may take months.

If a dog has suffered recurring ear infections for a long time, a total ear ablation (TECA) may be recommended. This surgery removes the diseased tissue in the ear canal.

How Do You Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs?

Once you know why do dogs get ear infections, the next step is prevention.

If your dog loves water activities such as swimming and bathing, thoroughly dry its ears each time and remove any debris in the ear canals. Provide a balanced diet and keep its environment clean and dry.

Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears could also prevent infections. Use a dog ear cleaning solution and absorbent gauze, then massage the ear canal from the outside.

Do not use paper towels or cotton because they will leave fibers in the ears, which can lead to irritation. Closely inspect the ear flaps and remove all debris.

Say Goodbye to Ear Infections

The best way to protect your pet from such a common condition is to provide a clean environment and healthy diet.

A complete health checkup from your vet will also uncover underlying health issues and what illnesses your pet might be prone to, so you can prevent them from occurring.

About Natural Farm

In 2018, after years of searching for high-quality, natural dog treat products, we decided to bring them to the market ourselves. That’s how Natural Farm was born—we wanted to present the industry with what it lacked the most: natural dog chews, treats, and bones, sustainably sourced from local suppliers and produced in our own human-grade, FDA- and USDA-approved facilities, where every product is lab tested for quality and contamination.

Natural Farm is committed to pets, people, and the planet. We give back to communities and pets in need, support reforestation efforts and nonprofits, and our products are packaged using sustainable recycled materials.

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