Ear infections in dogs are very common, especially this time of year because of allergies. Environmental or food allergens cause inflammation within the ear canal in allergic pets. The inflammation causes changes within the canal that promote bacterial and yeast overgrowth and infection. Signs of an ear infection include inflammation, itching, pain, swelling, odor, and brown or yellow discharge. Pets usually come into the clinic because they are shaking their heads and scratching at their ears.
If you notice any of these signs, please schedule an exam for your pet. We will examine the ears by looking down into the ear canals and assessing the ear drum. If necessary, a sample of the ear discharge will be taken and stained so we can look at it under the microscope to check for bacterial and yeast infections. Once an infection is diagnosed, the proper topical treatment will be prescribed. This only treats the secondary infection, so for dogs experiencing chronic ear infections, strategies to address the underlying allergy or other primary disease will be discussed. Even though allergies are the most common cause of ear infections, ear conformation (long, pendulous ears, narrow canals, or large amount of hair), water in the ear from grooming or swimming, and thyroid problems can cause ear infections too. We always keep these in mind when evaluating your pet!
So how do we treat ear infections? Ear drops, systemic medications, hypoallergenic food, therapeutic laser, ear flush/wipes for ear canal health, and addressing underlying causes are among some of the treatment options available for ear infections. Treatment is customized for each individual pet!
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