Inner Ear Infection Symptoms in Dogs

Otitis is also known as an ear infection and may be of several types, depending on the area of the ear that is infected. The inner ear infections are the most serious types of ear infections and you should watch out for a few inner ear infection symptoms to prevent deafness.

External Ear Infection Symptoms

Most often, inner ear infections evolve from an external ear infection that is not treated. It is important to be able to detect symptoms of external ear infections to prevent inner ear infections.

The symptoms of the external ear infection (otitis externa) include:

  • Inflammation of the outer ear and the ear canal; the canine ear infection may affect both ears or only one ear
  • Pain, indicated by pawing the ear area, head shaking or head tilting mostly in the affected side
  • Presence of external parasites (fleas or mites) which will be visible with the naked eye
  • Excessive production of earwax
  • Lethargy
  • Aggressiveness when the ears are touched

Inner Ear Infections Symptoms

In addition to the symptoms of external ear infection, the dog affected by an inner ear infection will also present additional symptoms.

The dog may have a discharge from the ear which can be:

  • Transparent, if the infection is caused by parasites or viruses
  • Thick and yellowish or with a pinkish hue if the ear infection is caused by bacteria or fungi

The discharge from the ear canal will have a foul odor and may contain earwax or dead parasites.

The dog’s hearing may be affected if the ear drum is perforated. You may test if your dog’s hearing by dropping an object in the vicinity of the dog (but making sure the dog doesn’t see you) and notice if the dog reacts in any way.

In some cases, the ear canal may be partially or completely shut, which is due to the fact that the inner ear tissues have been thickened and mineralized.

Neurological Symptoms

If the inner ear infection is severe and the ear drum is perforated, the dog may display neurological symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored.

Common neurological symptoms include:

  • Lack of balance and coordination
  • Rolling
  • Circling
  • Dilated pupils, in some cases, one pupil will be more dilated (Horner’s syndrome)
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden collapse

The dog requires immediate treatment, as the damage may be permanent.

An untreated ear infection may result in permanent deafness.

Inner Ear Infection Treatment

An inner ear infection in your dog may be treated. The treatment will depend on how advanced the infection is and whether the ear canal is shut or the ear drum is intact.

Topical ointments, ear drops coupled with oral antibiotics may be recommended to clear the infection.

If the ear canal is shut, the vet may have to perform surgery.

If the dog presents neurological symptoms, the vet will prescribe additional treatment to manage the neurological damage.