Dogs with ear infections can bark more than usual. The discomfort or pain from the infection can cause increased irritability, leading to more frequent barking. It’s important to consult a veterinarian if a dog shows signs of an ear infection or unusual behavior.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs
Redness and Swelling
The inside of the ear, especially the ear canal, may appear red and inflamed. This is a direct response to the infection and can cause significant discomfort for the dog.
Odor and Discharge
A strong, unpleasant odor might emanate from the infected ear. There may also be a noticeable discharge, which can range from a clear fluid to thick pus, depending on the severity and type of infection.
Scratching and Head Shaking
Dogs with an ear infection often scratch the affected ear or shake their head frequently. This is an attempt to alleviate the itchiness or discomfort caused by the infection.
Tilted or Drooped Head
Some dogs with ear infections may hold their head at a tilt or droop their ear due to pain or a sense of imbalance. This can be especially noticeable if only one ear is affected.
Loss of Balance
The inner ear plays a role in balance. If the infection reaches the inner ear, the dog might exhibit signs of dizziness, stumbling, or falling over.
As a result of the pain, discomfort, and irritability from the infection, dogs might bark more than usual. The barking can be a way of vocalizing their distress or trying to get attention for relief.
Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs
Bacteria and Yeast Overgrowth
The most common cause of ear infections in dogs is the overgrowth of the microorganisms naturally found in the ear. Certain bacteria or yeast can proliferate when the ear’s environment changes, leading to infections.
Dogs can develop allergies to food, environmental factors, or even certain medications. These allergic reactions can result in inflammation of the ear canal, making it a conducive environment for infections.
These tiny parasites can invade a dog’s ear canal, causing intense itching and inflammation. Their presence often results in a dark, coffee-ground-like discharge in the ear.
Water and Moisture
Dogs that swim frequently or wash their ears often can retain moisture in the ear canal. This moist environment is ideal for bacterial and yeast growth, leading to infections.
Home Remedies for Treating Ear Infection in Dogs
Oil of Oregano
Diluted oregano oil can act as a natural antiseptic, helping kill bacteria and yeasts that might be causing the infection. Make sure to dilute it properly with a carrier oil before applying a few drops to the ear, as it can be very potent and might irritate if used undiluted.
Warm Olive or Coconut Oil
Gently warming some olive or coconut oil and applying a few drops into the ear can help to soothe irritation and also assist in loosening any debris present. Both oils have natural antifungal and antibacterial properties.
This natural astringent can help reduce inflammation and dry out excess moisture within the ear. Apply witch hazel gently to the outer ear area using a cotton ball, but avoid pushing it deep into the ear canal.
A natural anti-inflammatory and antifungal, calendula can be applied as an oil or tincture. It can help soothe the skin and combat some underlying causes of ear infections.
Herbal Ear Drops
Combining natural antiseptics and anti-inflammatories like garlic and mullein with a carrier oil can create a soothing ear drop solution. These can be purchased or made at home, but ensure the ingredients are safe for dogs.
How to Prevent Ear Infection in Dogs?
- Regular Cleaning: Clean your dog’s ears with a vet-recommended ear cleaner to remove debris and excess wax, which can harbor bacteria and yeast.
- Dry Ears After Swimming: Always ensure your dog’s ears are dry after swimming or baths to prevent moisture build-up, which can foster microbial growth.
- Proper Diet: Feed a balanced diet to support overall health and potentially reduce the risk of allergies, which can predispose the ear to infections.
- Groom Excess Hair: Trimming or plucking excess hair can improve air circulation and reduce moisture and wax accumulation for breeds with hairy ear canals.
- Regular Vet Checks: Regular check-ups can help catch potential issues early and ensure the ears are healthy.
- Avoid Irritants: Try to prevent your dog from coming in contact with known allergens or irritants, which can cause inflammation in the ear.
- Treat Parasites: Regularly check for and treat ear mites and other parasites that can cause ear problems.
Are Specific Breeds Prone to Ear Infection?
Yes, certain breeds are more susceptible to ear infections due to their ear structure and genetics. Breeds with floppy ears like Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Golden Retrievers tend to have reduced airflow, making their ears more prone to infection. Similarly, breeds with hairy inner ears, like Poodles, can also be at risk.
Can a Dog’s Ear Infection go away on its own?
While some mild ear infections might resolve independently, it’s uncommon, and many will persist or worsen without proper treatment. It’s essential to address ear infections promptly to prevent complications and ensure the dog’s comfort.
How soon should I contact a Vet if my Dog shows Ear Infection Signs?
You should contact a veterinarian as soon as you notice signs of an ear infection in your dog. Early intervention can prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the dog’s discomfort.
How a Vet Diagnoses Ear Infections?
A vet diagnoses ear infections primarily through a clinical examination of the ear, which may include visual inspection and using an otoscope to look deeper into the ear canal. They might also take samples of ear discharge for microscopic examination or culture to identify the specific pathogens involved.