Ear Infections In Dogs
Ear infections are an extremely common problem for dogs, with some breeds suffering more than others. While some infections will heal naturally, for the most part pet owners should contact a veterinarian for the appropriate treatment. Fortunately, most infections are not serious and a simple dose of medication should resolve the problem. However, there can be severe complications when it comes to ear problems and for that reason, it’s vitally important to take a serious approach to this area. If the problem is left untreated, dogs can develop very serious conditions such as tumors, deafness or even types of meningitis.
Just like humans, dogs can easily express their pain and it is particularly easy to see when they are suffering from an ear infection. There are lots of symptoms associated with this problem although one that most pet owners could ignore is the dog regularly shaking their head. Many believe that this is simply an act to shake away an itch, but it can actually mean that the dog is attempting to shake something out of its ear. Other random but regular movements of the head can also suggest an ear infection, with some dogs also opting to cock the head to once side again to try and relieve the sensation in their ear. Other, but perhaps more obvious, signs of the condition are inflammation or swelling around the area and bad smelling ear wax. For the latter, it is a common misconception that dogs do not have ear wax but they do in fact and if it smells foul, there is a high chance that they have an infection. Finally, one of the rare symptoms can be poor balance and this should be something that is attended to immediately as it can be due to a more serious type of ear infection.
It was said earlier how breeds with floppy ears, such as the Cocker Spaniel, are the more likely to suffer from ear infections. The reasoning behind this is unlike breeds with upright ears, flopped ears do not receive as much air flow and it therefore becomes easier to trap dirt and other obstacles that cause infections.
In terms of general causes, there are many issues that can cause the infections. Bacterial infections, ear mites and food intolerances are arguably the most common and treatment for these issues can vary, as we’ll discuss later. Unfortunately, ear infections can also be caused by very serious issues and a tumor can fall into this category. Tumors can develop in the wax glands and unlike many of the other causes, surgery will have to be performed to remove the growth. Another more serious cause is something called puppy strangles and while this is a condition that isn’t directly related to the ears, the effects of the disease have been known to cause ear infections as it primarily involves inflammation of the skin.
As there are so many causes of ear infections, it is impossible to state a specific treatment method. However, pet owners should firstly look to cleanse the area, as hygiene could quite easily be the underlying problem. This can be done at home with the use of cotton swabs but as the ears are very sensitive areas, it could be an idea to go straight to the vet clinic. This course of action should most definitely be taken if the issue is not improving. A veterinarian should be able to diagnose the problem almost immediately and in most cases they will prescribe medication – usually ear drops. As said previously, surgery can also be an option for the more serious cases, while a dog may also require their ears to be flushed should they have objects lodged in there.
Strangely, the main recommendation to help prevent ear infection is to simply wash and groom the dog regularly, and generally keep them hygienic. Regular grooming allows the hair around the ears not to become as tangled, which should allow more air flow around the ears and help prevent problems. If this is performed, it should not be necessary to clean the inside of the ears as dogs have a natural method of performing this duty. Another possible suggestion to prevent infection is to regularly apply anti-mite and anti-flea powders as both mites and fleas can be one cause behind the infection, as discussed previously.
In conclusion, ear infections is perhaps a more broader subject than one would imagine. There are many different causes and if a dog is not treated, there is a risk that they could develop very serious problems. As a pet owner, always be on a look out for the symptoms discussed above and also look to apply the prevention methods suggested in the previous paragraph, as they can make a huge difference to the overall condition of a dog’s ears.
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