AKC says Ear infections are common conditions in dogs, especially those with floppy ears.
What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs? The canine ear canal is more vertical than that of a human, forming an L-shape that tends to hold in the fluid. This makes dogs more prone to ear infections. Ear infections are typically caused by bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both. In puppies, ear mites can also be a source of infection.
Prevention depends on identifying the underlying cause of ear infection. In some cases, the ear canal becomes moist from bathing, grooming or swimming. This moisture fosters the growth of microorganisms in the ear canal. Prevention in these cases can be as simple as cleaning the ear as previously described to remove the moisture and prevent the infection. However, in many cases, an underlying cause may not be so easily identified. Dogs that suffer from allergies, either environmental, such as pollens (grasses, trees and weeds), dust mites, molds or food (beef, chicken, fish, soy, etc.) are predisposed to ear infections. This is due to the microscopic inflammation that allergies cause in the skin allowing overgrowth of bacterial and yeast organisms that normally inhabit the skin.
#1 Look at Your Dog’s Ears
A normal dog ear should be light pink with a little bit of pale yellow wax. If the ear is red, inflamed, hot to the touch or contains excessive wax or debris that resembles coffee grounds (a sign of ear mites), chances are the ears are infected.
#2. Smell Your Dog’s Ears
Granted, this isn’t the most glamorous part of being a pet owner, but it’s a surefire way to tell if there’s a problem brewing in your dog’s ears. A strong musty smell is a sign of yeast overgrowth, and bacterial infections can also cause a funky odor.
#3. Cue into Their Body Language
If your dog normally loves head pats and rubs behind the ears but is suddenly shying away, this could be your dog’s way of telling you his ears are infected.
#4. Watch for Head-Shaking or Scratching
Infected ears are usually itchy ears! If you see your dog head shaking and scratching more than usual, that’s his way of saying, “I need a little help here!”
Cleaning your dog’s ears at home can also help prevent ear infections. Jeff Grognet, DVM, a columnist for AKC Family Dog, advises the following steps for ear cleaning: “First, fill the canal with a cleaning solution and massage the vertical ear canal from the outside. Wipe out the canal with absorbent gauze. Don’t use paper towels or cotton because these may leave fibers behind, and those could cause irritation.” Cotton swabs may also be useful for cleaning your dog’s pinnae (the external ear flaps) but avoid using them in the ear canal, which may inadvertently push debris deeper into the canal. If they persist you may need to visit your vet and see what treatments are available.