Dog Ear Infections: How To Treat Them

Did you know that dogs who suffer with recurrent ear infections have an 80% chance of food intolerance? 


Ear infections are divided into otitis externa, otitis media and otitis interna - which you can probably guess to be infections of the outer, middle and inner ear. 

Otitis externa in particular is an inflammatory condition of the external auditory canal. Symptoms of this type of ear infection include redness, warmth, swelling, scaling, discharge and thickening of the ear. You may also notice that your dog is experiencing discomfort, itching or slight deafness.

You’re probably wondering how on earth an ear infection can be related to a food allergy or an imbalance in the gut?! Well, let us tell you…

Food allergies act as an immune system trigger and causes the body to go into a state of inflammation. This often includes the ear and ear canals. It may cause an ear to become inflamed, creating a warm and humid environment. We all know that warm and humid environments are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast! This will almost always result in an infection in the ear if not caught soon enough.

 

Hungarian vizsla with floppy ear

 

Of course, food allergies are not the only reason your dog could be experiencing frequent ear infections. Other common causes of ear infections in dogs include:

  • Thyroid problems
  • External allergies
  • Grass seeds
  • Ear mites
  • Bacteria growth
  • Water
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Injury
  • Excess cleaning
  • Hereditary

Healthy dog ears are generally pink, clean and have an unobtrusive smell. A dog suffering from an ear infection might show a number of these symptoms.

If ear infections are left untreated, they can spread further into the ear, causing deafness, facial paralysis, vestibular and loss of balance. 

Dog breeds more prone than others to ear infections include those with floppy or hair ears such as Cocker Spaniels, Poodles and Golden Retrievers. They can however occur in any dog breed.

What happens when I take my dog to the vet?

Your vet will perform a thorough examination of your dog’s skin and ear drum to ensure it is intact. They may take a small sample of the ear contents to observe under a microscope in order to determine the problem.

If your dog is in extreme pain and will not allow the examination safely, it may be necessary to sedate or anesthetise them.

 

long floppy eared dog

 

Signs and symptoms of ear infections include:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching
  • Foul odour
  • Discharge
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Crusting around the ear 

How do you treat ear infections in dogs?

Treatment for ear infections vary depending on the case and severity of the case. Some vets will prescribe antibiotics or other medications to get rid of the infection. Be aware that antibiotics don’t discriminate and destroy both good and bad bacteria. Using Probiotics alongside antibiotics is a great way to keep your dog’s gut balanced and help prevent them from becoming even more sick.

For less severe infections, your vet may perform a thorough clean on the ear and show you how you can do so too. 

Recurrent infections will often need a closer look - you may be advised to undergo an elimination diet with your dog to find out just what is causing the flare ups.


Preventing ear infections from occurring can be difficult if you don’t know the cause but we can certainly try!

  • Always dry your dog’s ears after bathing, swimming or any other situation where they may have gotten wet.
  • Identify the allergy whether it be internal or external.
  • Keep your dog clean! Check ears often for any changes.
  • Use supplements. Strengthening allergen barriers with the help of probiotics and omega 3 may be just what your dog needs!

 

German shepherd with probiotics for dogs

 

If you’re concerned about your dog’s ear infections, always seek veterinary advice. Your vet knows your dog’s health better than anyone!