Common Ear Disorders in Dogs

Is you dog constantly scratching at its ears, shaking its head or rubbing its head against the furniture?

If so! Chances are your poor dog has a common ear disorder that can be promptly taken care of.

Ear infections are common in dogs and can cause everything from painful constant scratching to “stinky ears.”

There are several things that can cause these problems such as allergies, parasites, bacteria, microorganisms, heredity disorders and foreign objects.

Many of the “long eared” dogs are prone to many types of infection such as the Cocker Spaniel and the Basset Hound. Hairy eared dogs such as poodles and schnauzers are prone to ear wax build up and other ear problems.

These dogs are known to have what is called heredity disorders and need to have their ears checked and cleaned on a regular basis in order to prevent serious problems.

Some dogs have allergy problems and this can cause the ears to itch and become inflamed. If your dog has a tendency toward allergies either from its food or pollen in the air and you notice an ear problem beginning, contact your vet at once.

Common ear problems such as ear mites (actually more common in cats than dogs) can be treated with over-the-counter products or a prescribed product from your vet.

If you are unfamiliar with ear mites, they are a parasite, hard to see by the human eye, but leave dark brown debris in the ear that resembles coffee grounds. Ear mites cause severe itching in the ear.

If your dog spends a great deal of time outdoors and has the opportunity to run through weeds and thick brush. Be on the lookout for things like “foxtails” which can cling to the fur, get between your dog’s toes and get into the ear canal.

If your dog gets some foreign debris in its ear and it is not lying on the surface of the ear and can easily be removed with tweezers, do not take a chance and try to remove it yourself.

Doing this may cause more harm than good and create a serious problem for your dog and a big vet bill for you. Foxtails are extremely dangerous in the ear as they are thorny and if all of it is not removed can create an infection.

Due to the unique L-shape of a dog’s ear (a vertical canal meets a horizontal canal and goes into the eardrum) dogs can suffer from moisture problems. Poor ear drainage and changes in the humidity can cause bacteria and microorganisms to inflame the outer ear canal. Your vet can prescribe eardrops to solve these problems.

So what can you do to help prevent some of these problems?

Check your dog’s ears every time you bathe or brush your dog. A healthy ear is pink in color and should not smell or have any kind of build up in it.

A cotton ball soaked in an ear cleaning solution and rubbed around the inner ear is a good way to clean out dirt, clean only as far as you can see into the ear. DO NOT probe deep into the ear canal either with the cotton ball or a Q-Tip.

Poking further than you can see is only asking for trouble as you may be packing earwax into the ear canal or pushing other debris into it. Leave the probing to your vet.

There are liquid ear cleaners in the market place that you can purchase. Pour into the ear until it fills up, gently rub the ear to break up any dirt or debris and then let your dog shake its head to get rid of the fluid. Do this for both ears and then give your pet a well-deserved treat.

By keeping a constant check on your dog’s ears and doing some maintenance yourself you can reduce the chances of possible infection and save your dog from a painful experience.

Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.