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Prin November 8th, 2006 02:08 PM

Ear infections in dogs
Many dogs, especially dogs with floppy ears, develop ear infections in their lifetime. Usually the causes for ear infections are moisture in the ear, either from the ear not breathing because the flap closes it or from swimming, and allergies, both food related and environmental.

The diagnosis of an ear infection at home is fairly simple. First, smell the ear. If the smell is very pungent, your dog is likely to have an infected ear. Second, look at the ear. If the ear has brown waxy dirt deposits inside, chances are the ear is infected. Third, when you massage the ear, the dog leans toward your massaging hand. Generally, the harder your dog leans, the more serious the ear infection. You may also notice your dog scratching his/her ears more frequently and shaking his/her head often as well.

The first ear infection requires a vet visit. Once there, the vet will likely flush out the ears and prescribe antibiotic/antifungal drops. You must follow his advice accurately to avoid the creation of resistant bacteria or yeast in the ears from improperly administering the drops. The vet might recommend that you return for another ear flushing once a week until the ears are clean enough to successfully fully treat the infection. These follow-up visits are usually free or at a substantially reduced rate, so don't be intimidated by them.

Once the ear infection is under control, your vet can show you how to properly clean the ears using an ear cleaning solution, such as Vet Solutions, Routeen and many others. Using these solutions while the ear is still raw from the infection is particularly painful and should be avoided. Dogs whose infected ears are cleaned with these alcohol-based solutions tend to become afraid of ear cleanings really quickly (it stings when the ears are seriously infected).

Now for the cause- the ears are clean and uninfected, but for how long? If the dog is no longer swimming, and moisture in the ear was the problem, the ear infection shouldn't return until the next swim. If the ears became infected because of allergies, they're likely to return quickly.

You can help in both situations by cleaning the dogs ears thoroughly after swimming and by cleaning the ears on a regular basis if you see they're getting progressively dirty.

In the case of allergies, the dirt in the ears will seem to accumulate faster than you can clean it. The first step in this case is an elimination diet. You take ALL the foods your dog has [I]ever[/I] eaten and compare the labels. Then you find a new food without any of the same ingredients (except the vitamins and minerals). The less overlap in ingredients between the new food and the old foods, the better the chances are of your dog not being allergic to it.

So for example, if your dog is eating a chicken and rice food, the most obvious opposite is fish and potato. Generally, people will move to lamb and rice foods. Some can be ok, but in general, the basic lamb and rice foods have too much overlap with the basic chicken foods. That is why fish and potato is a better choice (among other reasons).

Be sure to switch foods [U]very[/U] gradually. As your dog is having an allergic reaction, it is likely that his/her immune system has been compromised a little bit, so any reactions to a change of food might be amplified.

Once completely switched to a new food, watch your dog closely for changes. If the dog gets worse, or develops other serious symptoms, the food might not be the right choice. If the dog stays the same, or gets better, stay on the food for at least three months. Some allergies take months to heal up, regardless of the source being removed.

In the case of the dog getting worse or just never getting better on the new food, after seeing your vet to be sure everything is ok, you can try a further elimination diet or you can ask your vet for allergy tests, both environmental and food related. It is possible that your dog is allergic to multiple things, and an elimination diet will be just too hard to accomplish without knowing exactly what to avoid.

Good luck!

Prin November 8th, 2006 02:12 PM

Untreated Ear Infections
If the ear infection is left untreated, it can penetrate deep into the middle and inner ear, possibly causing labyrinthitis (walking like a drunk because the dog's ability to balance is dirupted), among other serious medical issues. Sometimes the effects are irreversible if left untreated too long.

Please seek medical care asap if your dog appears to have an ear infection that the vet hasn't seen in your dog already.

erykah1310 November 8th, 2006 05:56 PM

Prin, I see lots of dogs in a day at work, and some of them when they are barking they squint thier eyes and lean their head to one side.... Could this also be a sign of an ear infection that has been left untreated too long?

FelineFatale November 8th, 2006 10:25 PM

That is very good information. this happened to a cat I took in. Ears were very bad. by the time we got him to the vet his inner ear was so ruined that he never had good balance. He did live out a very long life and we loved him much.

Prin November 8th, 2006 10:55 PM

[QUOTE=erykah1310;313268]Prin, I see lots of dogs in a day at work, and some of them when they are barking they squint thier eyes and lean their head to one side.... Could this also be a sign of an ear infection that has been left untreated too long?[/QUOTE]

Yes... The leaning can end up permanent...:(

brandynva November 9th, 2006 02:42 PM

I have a dog with floppy ears. They are ok now, but what can I do to prevent ear infections? I have never had to deal with this issue before and before coming on this forum didn't realize it was a problem. He doesn't swim, and I try to dry his ears real good after his baths. Any other suggestions?

Prin November 9th, 2006 02:45 PM

Get an ear cleaning solution from the vet and ask the vet to show you how to clean them. Some vets say to just pour it in and let the dog shake it out, but I prefer to wet a cloth (lint-free) with it and go in with my finger. Otherwise, depending on how closed the ear is (if it's shaped to trap things inside), some of the juice tends to stay in and it hurts the doggy...

OntarioGreys November 10th, 2006 08:15 AM

Another medical problem that can occur from ear infections is facial paralysis much like Bell's Palsy in humans and can affect eyes making the dog unable to blink, the tongue and mouth making eating and drinking diffcult and causing them to bite their lips and tongue, sometimes temporary and other times can be permanent.

If a dog continually has re-occuring ear infections bloodwork should be done to rule out hypothyroidism,

For dogs with floppy ears a drying agent can be purchased from the vet which is used like a cleaner and can help prevent moisture from forming in the ear

Angies Man November 11th, 2006 01:30 PM

My poodle gets most of the hair pulled out of her ears when she is groomed.

When she swims, she gets a treatment (about 3 drops in each ear) of Dermapet MalAcetic Otic--which is an acetic acid (2%) and boric acid solution. It's a pretty standard treatment for swimmer's ear, btw.

I sniff her ears regularly to check for infections.

mummummum November 12th, 2006 01:32 AM

To help prevent ear infections in dogs who are in water frequently, use an eyedropper to put a few drops of mineral oil in each ear and massage gently to coat the inside of the ear before the swim or bath. Afterwards use a baby washcloth, which are preferable to others because they are thin, soft and pliant, to gently but thoroughly dry the inside of the ears.

OntarioGreys November 13th, 2006 08:46 AM

I put cotton balls in the dogs ears during the bath to help keep water out

Luvpearls June 15th, 2017 12:05 AM

Nice and really comprehensive information.

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