Canine Ear Infection (Otitis Externa) FAQ

Otitis externa also known as the outer ear infection may affect dogs. The ear infections are common in canines, so as a pet owner you need to know a few basics about this condition.

Are All Dogs Affected?

The ear infection may affect dogs of any age, breed or sex. However, dogs with long ears (i.e. Cocker Spaniels) are more susceptible to ear infections.

What Are the Causes of Otitis Exterma?

Otitis externa may be the result of a wide range of causes including parasites (i.e. fleas or mites), mange, fungal or bacterial infections or autoimmune diseases. Also, if the dog has been swimming and he has remaining water in his ears, this may cause an imbalance and lead to an infection.

A foreign object that is lodged in the ear canal may also be the cause of otitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Otitis?

Otitis can be signaled by different symptoms including ear irritation, foul odor coming from the ears (and possibly a discharge), head shaking, pawing and scratching of the ear. To respond to the infection, the dog may also produce ear wax in excess.

How Is Otitis Diagnosed?

Otitis should be diagnosed by a vet, using an otoscope. The vet should establish if the middle and inner ear are affected and should also get a sample of the ear discharge to establish the cause of the infection.

Is Otitis Externa Dangerous?

If left untreated, otitis externa may be dangerous, as it may evolve and penetrate the middle ear, perforate the ear drum and affect the inner ear as well. This may cause permanent deafness.

How Is Otitis Treated?

Otitis may be treated with the daily administration of ear drops and topical medication. The vet will establish what the ear drops should contain, depending on the nature of the infection.

How Long Is the Recovery Period?

Once daily treatment is administered, the infection can be treated in 2 to 4 weeks. You must make sure that you administer the ear drops as indicated by the vet; the ear drops should get in the dog’s ears, otherwise the treatment won’t be effective.

Can the Dog Be Treated at Home?

Ideally, the dog shouldn’t be treated at home, as the cause of the infection should be established before getting medication.

In addition, if the ear drum is perforated, the administration of ear drops may cause damage to the inner ear.

There are a few home remedies that may be applied, however, you should check if the ear drum is perforated and administer at home treatment only if the ear drum is intact.

What Are the Symptoms of a Perforated Ear Drum?

If the infection advances, it may affect the ear drums of the pet. If the ear drums are ruptured, you dog may display a few symptoms including neurological symptoms such as lack of coordination, Horner’s syndrome (the dog’s pupils are dilated at different degrees) or confusion and lack of balance as well as nausea and vomiting.

How to Prevent Ear Infections?

Ear infections may be prevented by cleaning the dog’s ears regularly using a saline solution and cotton buds. You should pay attention not to damage the dog’s ear drum while cleaning the ears.