How Do Dogs Get Ear Infections? Causes, Signs, and Treatments

How Do Dogs Get Ear Infections? Causes, Signs, and Treatments

Do you ever think puppies are cute when they keep "shaking their heads" in front of you?
Stop taking videos and look at your dog's ears! It may get an ear infection.
Pet owners often find their dogs cute and cuddly because of their behavior but ignore their unusual behaviors. Dogs can't talk and are very tolerant, so they usually won't show their discomfort and pain.
So, as a dog owner, you should pay more attention to some of their unusual behaviors. And this article will talk about the common dog illness - ear infections: How do dogs get ear infections? You can find the causes, signs, and treatments here.


What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?

While ear infections are common in dogs, we also need to be aware of what can trigger them. Knowing the cause can help us prevent it.
Bacteria: Bacterial infections are a frequent cause of ear infections in dogs. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas, can proliferate in warm, moist environments.
  • Yeast (Fungal) Infections: Yeast, especially Malassezia species, can thrive in the ears, especially when the pH balance is disrupted, or moisture is trapped within the ear canal. Dogs with floppy ears or excessive hair are particularly susceptible.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions, often to environmental allergens like pollen, mold, dust mites, or certain foods, can cause inflammation in the ears, making them more prone to infections.
  • Ear Mites: These tiny parasites, known as Otodectes cynotis, can infest a dog's ears, causing irritation, inflammation, and secondary infections.
  • Foreign Objects: Objects like grass seeds, foxtails, or debris can become lodged in the ear canal, leading to irritation and infection.
  • Anatomy: Dogs with certain ear structures, such as floppy ears that lack proper airflow, are more prone to trapping moisture and debris, increasing the risk of infections.
  • Excessive Moisture: Swimming or bathing without proper drying of the ears can introduce excess moisture that promotes bacterial and fungal growth.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Conditions like hypothyroidism can alter the skin's condition and make the ears more susceptible to infections.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Dogs with weakened immune systems or other health issues might be more susceptible to infections.
  • Poor Ear Hygiene: Infrequent or improper cleaning of a dog's ears can lead to the accumulation of wax, debris, and bacteria, increasing the risk of infections.
  • Trauma: Ear injuries, such as scratches or cuts, can create openings for bacteria to enter and cause infections.
  • Excessive Grooming: Dogs that scratch or paw at their ears excessively can introduce dirt, debris, and bacteria, leading to infections.

One other thing to be particularly careful about is that you may need to pay attention to spring and summer. At the same time, there is no rigorous research showing that ear infections are seasonal. You can see that some of the causative factors listed above are more active in warm, humid environments, such as bacteria, yeast, and ear mites.


Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs

Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs


We understand the causes of ear infections and also need to know the symptoms of ear infections in dogs so that we can easily find what's wrong with our dogs the first time and treat them earlier.

  • Ear Scratching: Excessive scratching or pawing at the ears is a common sign of ear discomfort or infection.
  • Head-Shaking: If your dog is shaking its head frequently or vigorously, it could be trying to alleviate itching or pain in the ears.
  • Ear Odor: A strong, unpleasant odor emanating from the ears is often a sign of infection.
  • Ear Discharge: Discharge from the ears can range from wax-like material to pus. The color and consistency of the discharge can vary.
  • Redness and Swelling: Inflamed or swollen ear tissue, often accompanied by redness, is indicative of an ear problem.
  • Tilted Head or Walking in Circles: If your dog holds its head tilted to one side or circles in one direction, it could be a sign of ear discomfort affecting its balance.
  • Rubbing Ears: Dogs with ear infections might rub their ears against furniture, walls, or the ground to relieve itching or pain.
  • Sensitivity to Touch: If your dog reacts negatively or exhibits discomfort when you touch its ears, it may be experiencing pain or inflammation.
  • Loss of Balance: Ear infections can affect a dog's equilibrium, leading to stumbling or loss of balance.
  • Changes in Behavior: Dogs in pain or discomfort may exhibit changes in behavior, such as irritability, restlessness, or lethargy.
  • Hair Loss Around Ears: Excessive scratching can lead to hair loss around the ears.
  • Crusts or Scabs: In chronic cases, the skin around the ears might develop crusts or scabs due to ongoing irritation.

It's important to remember that these signs could mean you have an ear infection, but they could also mean you have other ear problems or deeper health problems. Trying to identify and treat an ear infection at home can sometimes make the problem worse, especially if the root cause isn't properly treated. So, if you think your dog has an ear infection or if he or she is showing any of these signs, you should take him or her to the vet. A vet can figure out what's wrong and give your dog the right treatment to make him feel better and avoid further problems.

How to Treat Ear Infection in Dogs

Treatment for ear infections in dogs depends on what's causing the infection and how bad it is. It's important to talk to a doctor to get a correct diagnosis and advice on how to treat the problem. Here are some general ways to treat an ear infection in a dog:

  • Veterinary Examination: Your dog's ears will be carefully checked by a vet, who will often use an otoscope to see inside the ear canal. This helps figure out what kind of illness it is and how bad it is.
  • Cleaning: One important step in healing ear infections is cleaning the ear. Most likely, a doctor will clean out the ear canal to get rid of dirt, wax, and discharge. This also helps the medicine get to where it needs to go.
  • Medication: Depending on the type of infection, a vet may recommend ear drops or ointments with antibiotics, antifungals, or a mix of both. These medicines help fight the bacteria that is causing the problem. Make sure to follow the vet's advice for the right way to give the medicine.
  • Pain Management: If your dog's ear infection hurts, the vet might give him or her painkillers to make your dog more relaxed.
  • Treatment Duration: How long treatment takes depends on how bad the problem is. Even if your symptoms get better before the medicine is done, it's important to finish the full course of treatment.
  • Underlying Causes: If the ear infection is caused by something deeper, like allergies, the vet may suggest treating the root cause to stop future illnesses. This could mean changing the way you eat, getting rid of allergens in the surroundings, or doing something else.
  • Preventative Care: After the infection is treated, it's important to keep your ears clean to avoid getting another one. Recurrences can be avoided by cleaning ears regularly, drying them out after swimming, and taking care of any underlying problems.
  • Avoid Self-Treatment: Even though you can buy ear cleaning solutions over the counter, you shouldn't try to identify or treat a dog's ear infection on your own. Instead, you should talk to a vet. Using the wrong products or methods can make the situation worse.
  • Breed-Specific Care: Some breeds are more likely to get ear infections, like those with floppy ears or lots of hair. Some of these breeds may need extra care with their ears and cleaning.


How do dogs get ear infections? Actually, there are many causes. For you, as a dog owners, always pay attention to dog's behavior and signs of discomfort.

Ear infections are common but can cause significant discomfort for dogs if left untreated. By understanding the causes, recognizing the signs, and seeking timely veterinary care, you can ensure your furry friend's ear health and overall well-being. Remember, a healthy and happy dog is a cherished companion. So, if you notice any unusual behavior or signs of ear infection in your dog, don't hesitate to seek professional guidance to ensure your dog's health and happiness.


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