Treating Inner Ear Infections in Dogs

Chronic canine inner ear infections should be treated early, as if they’re left untreated they can result in permanent damage and hearing loss. If your pet gets an ear infection, it’s imperative that you consult the veterinarian and treat him immediately. Mild infections can be treated with medication while severe infections may warrant medical intervention.

Canine Inner Ear Infections

The middle and inner ear of a dog are separated by the ear drum from the outer drum. The inner ear controls the dog’s sense of balance and hearing. Infection in the inner ear can therefore cause a loss of balance and hearing. If untreated, the infection can progress to the brain and cause neurological problems as well. Hence, infections in the middle and inner ear should be diagnosed and treated at the earliest, to prevent permanent damage.

Symptoms of Inner Ear Infections in Dogs:

  • Pain in the ear
  • Shaking of the head
  • Scratching of the head and ear
  • Bloody discharge
  • Odor from the ear canal
  • Inflammation in the ear canal
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Facial paralysis 
  • Loss of balance and coordination including circling

Causes of Canine Inner Ear Infection

The cause of inner ear infection is usually the spread of the existing outer ear infection to the inner ear. Dark and moist environments can cause bacteria to multiply in the ear canal. Moreover, if foreign bodies or ear mites enter the ear and the dog scratches the ear, the vigorous itching leads to an infection. Ear infections are also hereditary and can be passed from generation to generation. Apart from this, hormonal imbalances, allergies and tumors often cause ear infections. Research also indicates that ear infections are more common in dogs with droopy ears.

Diagnosis for Dog Ear Infections

Inner ear infections are diagnosed by a veterinarian by using head X-rays and physical examinations with an otoscope. The dog has to be anesthetized in order to flush the ear and examine it. The vet can confirm inner ear infection if the ear drum is found infected, discolored and full of fluid. It’s not always necessary that the dog has an outer ear infection but it’s common for a dog with an inner ear infection to have outer ear infection as well.

Treatment of Canine Inner Ear Infection

If the inner ear infection is mild, it’s possible to treat it with antibiotics administered orally or through injections. These are used in conjunction with topical anti fungal creams and antibiotic ointments. The ear should be cleaned before these medicines are used. For chronic or more severe infections, the middle ear should be treated and flushed. It may also be necessary to surgically cut open the ear drum to drain it of fluids. In some cases, the bony covering of the ear might have to be removed. In others the entire ear canal might have to be completely removed and closed.

It’s easy to prevent inner ear infection if you feed your pet a healthy diet and ensure that he enjoys optimum health. Regular grooming and controlling ear mites and allergies is essential. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of outer ear infections also helps prevent inner ear infections. The best way to successfully treat an inner ear infection is to take prompt action.