Repeated head shaking. Foul-smelling, waxy build-up. Red, painfully inflamed
ears. What do all these things have in common? All are symptoms of otitis
externa, or what is commonly referred to as ear infections. If you have ever
groaned inwardly and felt dismay the moment your dog starts shaking his head or
rubbing his ears along the nearest available surface, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, too many pet parents are more than familiar with this recurring
medical problem. Often, it is accompanied by an offensive odor and one can only
imagine how overwhelming the smell is to the suffering pup!
Canine ear infections result from an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the
ear canal, causing redness, irritation and a heavy accumulation of wax. Likely
triggers of these maladies are skin reactions to inhaled allergens – like
pollen, mold or dust mites – or food allergies and sensitivities. Be aware that
both large ears and swimming predispose dogs to ear infections.
Humans tend to develop ear infections as a result of viral infections,
typically in infancy or early youth. As youngsters, our Eustachian tubes are
very small. Respiratory congestion can lead to blockage of these canals,
resulting in otitis media (a middle ear infection). Because the infection is
internal, they frequently require oral antibiotics. In contrast, pets usually
develop ear infections as adults, and the infection is almost always localized
in the external portion of the ear. In most cases, the application of
prescription drops or ointments directly into the ear canal usually resolves the
illness. If you suspect your companion animal may be suffering from an ear
infection, please seek veterinarian assistance for diagnosis and treatment. If
necessary, your vet may prescribe a topical medicine and advise routine
In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah reveals the steps to safe and
effective ear cleaning to promote overall ear health.