Dog Yeast Ear Infection

Dog yeast ear infections are common, and affect the external part of the ear canal. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to ear yeast infections, due to the anatomy of their head and ears. The symptoms of yeast infection range from itchiness to head shaking and inflammation. The infection should be treated, as it causes a lot of discomfort in your dog.

Causes of Dog Yeast Ear Infection

A yeast ear infection may be caused by an overgrowth of the yeast cells in the dog’s ear. The yeast cells are typically present on the dog’s skin, but they're in a balanced amount that is not harmful. Overgrowth of the yeast cells may be caused by:

  • An underlying infection (i.e., ear mites)
  • The administration of antibiotics
  • Tumors or foreign bodies that lodge in the ear canal
  • Thyroid problems

Symptoms of Dog Yeast Ear Infection

An ear yeast infection will cause itchiness and a lot of discomfort in your pet. You will notice your dog shaking his head, scratching his ears or touching his ears with his paws. The scratching can lead to bleeding and secondary infections.

Other symptoms include inflammation, redness and scaly skin in the ear area, excessive ear wax production and a yellowish discharge that has a foul odor.

These symptoms are similar to ear mite symptoms, but ear mites are more common in puppies. Ear mites can cause secondary infections such as yeast infections, so only the vet will be able to give an exact diagnosis and prescribe a suitable treatment.

Diagnosing Dog Yeast Ear Infection

The vet will establish the diagnosis by examining the ear with an otoscope, to determine if the ear drum is affected. The ear drum is a very sensitive membrane and if it's perforated, the treatment should not contain certain drugs that can cause damage to the inner ear. This could result in loss of hearing.

The vet will need a sample of the discharge for a cytologic examination. If the sample contains yeast cells in excess, the diagnosis is clear. The vet will also look for a secondary infection (bacterial or fungal).

If the ear is completely shut (this may happen if the infection is recurrent), antibiotics will be prescribed until the ear opens up and an examination is possible. In rare cases, surgery will be needed to open the ear cavity.

Ear Infection Treatment

The treatment of the yeast ear infection will be lengthy, as the ear is a dark and moist environment where the yeast cells thrive. Antifungal medication alone will not solve the problem. Ear drops will be needed to create a balanced amount of yeast cells.  

Always make sure to administer the drops and the topical ointments so that they enter the ear canal. Use a syringe or an ear dropper, and massage the area to make sure the medication gets in the ear.

Treating an ear infection is essential, as the condition is not only uncomfortable for your pet, but can also create other problems. The constant head shaking can even result in broken blood vessels in the head. Chronic ear infections can lead to hearing loss.