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Otitis in dogs, How can I prevent it?


Does your dog’s ears hurt, does it scratch them continuously or does it have an inflamed ear canal? If you answered yes, you may be facing otitis in dogs, a very common and annoying disease that your furry friend may suffer several times in his life.

In this Las Almenas article you will find the necessary information so that you can recognize this problem and prevent it, as far as possible. However, you already know that your veterinarian is the most appropriate professional to diagnose and treat otitis in dogs.

What is otitis in dogs?

Canine otitis is the inflammation caused by an ear infection in dogs.

Most commonly, this disorder manifests itself with an otitis externa, that is, the cells of the external auditory canal become inflamed. In this case the infection is not serious, but it is advisable to see a specialist as soon as possible to avoid complications.

Your dog will probably feel pain and itching in one or both ears. The ear canal may also be blocked and have a bad odor.

If the infection progresses along the ear canal up to the eardrum, then it is otitis media. In this case, in addition to pain and itching, your dog may suffer noticeable hearing loss.

If by now, you have not gone to the vet to treat otitis in dogs, the infection can progress to cause a loss of balance and deafness in your dog. We are talking then about internal otitis which is really a very serious situation for your dog.



Symptoms of otitis in dogs

Otitis in dogs manifests itself with different symptoms. These can appear suddenly or gradually. In any case, it is essential that you are attentive to these symptoms to go to the vet as soon as possible:

-Inflammation of the ear canal.

-Itching and pain in the ears that make your dog scratch his ears constantly. Be very careful with this symptom because the dog’s insistence can cause internal bleeding in the ear (an otohematoma) that will require surgical intervention for its removal.

  • Excess wax in the ears or even plugs in the ear canal. This discharge may range from a yellowish to a dark brown color, as a result of the mixture of blood and wax.
  • Sores or wounds in the ears.
  • Bad odor in the ears.
  • Reddening of the ears.
  • Increased temperature.
  • Deafness or hearing loss.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Irritability and intolerance when handling the ears.
  • Tilting of the head to one side. It is very common for otitis in dogs to provoke sudden movements and jerking of the head, as the dog tries to relieve itself of the discomfort it feels.



How to diagnose otitis in dogs

As we always tell you, your veterinarian is the only person qualified to diagnose any health problem in your pet, including otitis in dogs. To do this, you will first have to develop an exploration of the dog’s ear canal. Using an otoscope, he can check for causes of inflammation and damage that has occurred. He may take ear samples for culture to check what type of bacteria or fungus is attacking your dog.

If the otitis in dogs is not caused by bacteria or fungus, the veterinarian will have to look for other causes, such as trauma, a tumor, an allergy, etc. For this, it may be necessary to perform more diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy, x-ray, blood tests, allergy tests, etc.


Why does otitis in dogs occur?

Otitis in dogs is a fairly common problem, as the dog’s ear canal is moist and warm, which is an ideal environment for the growth of fungi and bacteria. Normally, the body’s defenses are able to keep these pathogens at bay. But if certain changes occur, such as allergies or increased humidity, it is possible for this balance to be disrupted and an infection to develop. But in addition to fungal or bacterial infections, there are other causes that can lead to otitis in dogs:

  • A blow or trauma. A fight, an accident or simply scratching an ear can cause wounds or ulcers that become infected and inflame the ear canal.
  • Parasites. Mites and fleas are parasites that irritate the dog’s skin which, when scratched, causes these wounds that can become infected.
  • Foreign objects. A seed or a spike that enters the ear can irritate the ear canal causing otitis in dogs.
  • Changes in the ear canal environment. Allergies and hormonal changes cause the ear canal environment to become unbalanced and more conducive to fungal and bacterial growth.
  • Polyps and tumors in the ear also cause inflammation.
  • Poor ventilation of the ears. Droopy ears, very narrow ear canals or fur inside the ear that occur in some dogs, causes poor ventilation of the ears and moisture to stay inside increasing the temperature. This causes more wax to be produced as a defense mechanism and this excess wax is a breeding ground for the growth of bacteria and fungi.



How is otitis in dogs cured?

The first treatment consists of cleaning the ear to remove foreign bodies, earwax and dirt. Your veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation caused by the infection. To treat the infection, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics, if it is caused by bacteria; antifungals, if it is a fungal infection; antiparasitics, if it is due to an infestation of external parasites. And if the ear canal is totally obstructed, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to remove the obstructing tissue.

As you can see, depending on the cause, the treatment is different. That is why it is essential to go to the veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis. Do not medicate him on your own, or give him antibiotics that you have at home from other times because this time it may be due to another problem and you will probably only get that the days go by and the infection increases. If the infection reaches the inner ear, otitis in dogs becomes a serious condition with a worse prognosis, are you going to gamble?

Do not forget to strictly follow your veterinarian’s instructions. If you do not comply with the treatment and do not give the indicated dose, if you forget or interrupt the treatment prematurely, it is possible that otitis in dogs will recur more frequently, since a resistance to the bacteria is generated, which will end up causing what is called chronic otitis.

Start treatment as soon as possible, since otitis in dogs is very contagious and can spread to the other ear or to other dogs. It would also not hurt to check your own ears, especially if the dog lives at home with you.

In the case of otitis in dogs due to bacterial or yeast infections, you will need to return to the veterinarian for weekly or biweekly physical examinations and tests until the infection clears up. Usually, in less than 4 weeks, otitis in dogs is resolved.


How to prevent otitis in dogs?

Since otitis in dogs is a very contagious condition that recurs with some frequency in some dogs, it is important to know how to prevent its appearance:

-Check your dog’s ears from time to time. Check if it gives off a bad smell or if it is swollen or has any wound or strange symptom. If so, go to your veterinarian.

-If your dog has a tendency to suffer from otitis in dogs, it is advisable to clean his ears regularly with those products that your veterinarian has indicated. And no absorbent cotton, cotton swabs or other objects that leave residues in the ear canal!

It is best to use sterile gauze and saline solution or other products that you can find in your favorite pet store.

-Remove the hair that prevents access to the ear so that there is good ventilation and the humidity and temperature inside the ear is reduced. Keep in mind that there are dogs that have more hair inside the ear canal, as is the case of Poodles, so it will be necessary to pay attention to this frequently.

-Make sure that the dog’s ears do not get wet during bathing. The most appropriate thing to do is to clean their ears with specific products for this hygiene.

Do you need advice on dog hygiene and grooming? You can read our article “Tips for grooming and hygiene of short-haired dogs“.

-In case you find seeds, plants, spikes or any foreign element in your dog’s ear canal, it is best to go to the veterinarian to remove them. Keep in mind that the dog may need anesthesia to remove these objects and avoid any kind of discomfort and pain for your dog.



Did you like our article? We hope all the information has been useful for you and remember that under no circumstances should you self-medicate your pet, it is better to go to the vet. But if you have any question you want to comment or ask us, you can write us here below or on our profiles on Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube channel Las Almenas. We will try to help you as much as possible because you know that in Las Almenas what concerns us most is the health of our little big family.

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