Diagnosing a Dog Ear Yeast Infection

Yeast spores are common on all living beings, but yeast in a dog ear can cause problems. Yeast infections are the most prevalent type of dog ear infection as yeast spores like to live in warm, dark, moist environments. These infections are most frequently found in dogs whose ears flop over, but can occur in any dog. Yeast infections in the ear are often associated with food allergies or as a reaction to ear mites and in older dogs, an endocrine imbalance can cause the ear to produce more ear wax, providing the ideal medium for yeast spores to grow. If allowed to go untreated, yeast infections in the ear can develop a secondary bacterial infection requiring antibiotics to treat it.

Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Dog Ears

Yeast infections in a dog ear have symptoms that are readily noticed:

  • Increased discharge of ear wax and other fluids in the ears provides the ideal moisture level for the yeast spores to grow. The discharge will be pinkish-brown in color.
  • The ears will produce a foul smell because of the gases emitted by the yeast spores as they grow.
  • The inner ear surfaces will appear red and inflamed.
  • Your dog will continually scratch at his ears or shake his head as the infection will cause irritation and itching.

Diagnosing Canine Ear Yeast Infection

After reviewing the symptoms discussed above, the veterinarian will typically take several steps in diagnosing ear problems.

  • The veterinarian will use an otoscope to look into your dog's ears. He will look to see if the inner ear membranes have become thick and spongy.
  • A swab will be taken of the secretions inside your dog's ears. The secretions are examined under a microscope.
  • The ear wax is cultured for a more specific identification of the offending infection. Since the culture will take several days to grow, the veterinarian will typically start treatment for the yeast infection and if a secondary bacterial infection is also suspected, antibiotics are prescribed.

Treatment for Canine Ear Yeast Infection

If the yeast infection has been caught early enough and secondary infection hasn't set in, treatment is simply daily cleaning of the ears for 10 to 14 days. A chlorhexidine antimicrobial solution or acidic ear cleaning solution is often recommended as they create an environment where the yeast cannot survive. Benadryl or another antihistamine may be used to help control the itching.

Once the ear yeast infection is cleared up, preventative measures are often recommended. If your dog gets water in his ears, either from swimming, bathing or just wandering through wet tall grass, use some of the ear cleaning solution to create a yeast-resistant environment. Be sure to clean your dog's ears once a month to prevent any wax build up and avoid a repeat yeast infection.

Dog ear yeast infections are easily treated if caught and treated early. The process is an at-home treatment to clean out the infection and create an uninviting environment for the yeast. If allowed to grow, yeast infections can be complicated by secondary bacterial infections. If the combined infections are allowed to go further, the dog's hearing can become impacted as the various parts of the ear become involved. Early intervention and preventative measures can help your dog stay healthy.