Treating a Canine Ear Infection With Antibiotics

Canine ear infections can occur in any breed of dog; however, dogs with floppy and furry inner ears, such as cocker spaniels, are more susceptible. Pain, discomfort and possible permanent hearing loss can occur if left untreated.

Symptoms of a Canine Ear Infection

The most common symptoms for an ear infection are itching, ear discharge, redness, pain, swelling, smelly odor from the ear and head shaking. Whenever there is an accumulation of bacteria and moisture, there is a good chance for a bacteria or fungal ear infection, or a yeast one in the dog ear.

Infections can affect the outer, middle or inner ear of a dog. Infections of the inner ear can spread to the central nervous system and can ultimately led to death. Since there are two forms of canine ear infections, it is important to discern which type since treatments are different.

Bacterial Ear Infections

Bacterial ear infections occur when the population of the natural-occurring bacteria exceeds the control of the dog's immune system defenses. Sometimes this occurs when there is lack of airflow as in the case of dogs with floppy ears and/or furry inner ears, which impede airflow. Moisture accumulates resulting in a bacterial infection, which can usually be cleared up with antibiotic drugs and twice-daily cleanings with cotton balls or another dog ear cleaner.

Aside from redness and swelling, frequent head shaking can indicate a bacterial ear infection. However, excessive head shaking can lead to the breakage of blood vessels under the skin and hematomas (pockets of blood under the skin) which often needs lancing, antibiotics or even surgery.

Fungal Ear Infections

Fungal ear infections are triggered by fungus, such as yeast, which is constantly present on the dog's body. Usually the dog's body keeps the yeast in the dog's ears in check; however, a change in body chemistry can upset that balance. Fungi thrives in moist, dark, damp locations such as in the ears of floppy-eared dogs. These fungal infections can spread to other parts of the body including the face and paws and so needs to be treated right away.

Discharge, scaling, redness, dryness, oozing, swelling and intense itching are usually associated with fungal ear infections. It is the intense itching that leads to the spread of the infection since the dog's nails can break open the skin, resulting in a secondary infection. Treatment includes anti-fungal drops or ointments along with twice-daily cleaning of the ears.

Treatment of Varieties of Canine Ear Infection

Neither bacterial nor fungal ear infections can be treated with home remedies. Only prescribed medications can cure them. Hydrocortisone cream can temporarily relieve the pain and itch of fungal infections until the dog visits the veterinarian. A dog owner should clean their dog's ears twice a week to prevent any infections and to monitor any changes in the ears. Prevention is key.