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Prevention and Treatment of Ear Infections in Dogs

Without consistent therapy, otitis externa can recur again and again and becomes a burden for the dog and owner.

A successful therapy comprises several steps: In addition to the thorough examination of the auditory canal, swabs should always be taken and analyzed so that the type of pathogen can be defined. Furthermore, it is very important to check that the eardrums are intact before introducing potentially harmful substances into the ear canal! In addition, earwax and inflammatory secretions should be removed with a special ear cleaner. The veterinarian then applies a drug locally that fights the infection and reduces the swelling of the inflamed ear skin. This relieves particularly uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, itching, and discharge. New are preparations that only have to be given twice by the vet at intervals of one week. Due to the administration in gel form, the active ingredient remains in the ear until the end of therapy. An accompanying cleaning by the owner is not necessary.

In the case of very protracted, chronic ear infections with a severely narrowed auditory canal, foreign bodies in the ear, or tumors, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Why does my dog ​​keep getting ear infections?

In the case of otitis externa, the underlying cause of the inflammation must be identified and treated consistently (e.g. foreign body, food intolerance, environmental allergy, hormonal disorders). Otherwise, the otitis will keep recurring and can become a chronic inflammation with poor prospects for healing. It is therefore important to present the dog to the veterinary practice as soon as the first signs appear because only there can a reliable diagnosis be made.

After the diagnosis, it is crucial to continue the established therapy for a sufficient period. Depending on the cause, treatment can last from several days to weeks.

Important: Even if the external symptoms have disappeared, the otitis in the ear can remain! After clinical improvement, the ear canal needs a longer time to heal completely. Regular check-ups with repeated takings and examinations of smears are therefore essential to determine whether the therapy is working well and whether healing is progressing. During a final examination, the veterinarian then checks whether the treatment was successful and can be stopped.

How can I prevent an ear infection?

Regular ear checks are the best way to prevent otitis. Owners should check their dog’s ears about once a week for redness or dirt, some wax in the outer ear canal and pinna is normal. The changed behavior of the four-legged friend can also indicate the beginning of inflammation. The first warning signs are, for example, shaking the head, scratching, restlessness, and “pleasant moaning” when scratching the ears. At this point, the dog should be brought to the veterinarian.

Regular cleaning of the ears of dogs with a preexisting condition can prevent inflammation. Owners should have their veterinarian show them the correct procedure. Mild ear cleaners that can be used at home can help here.

Incidentally, the hair in the auditory canal of a healthy ear should not be removed. Owners can only have the hair plucked out professionally, for example by a dog groomer or veterinarian, if a dog has a lot of hair in its ears and the veterinarian believes this promotes inflammation. But be careful: removing the hair incorrectly or too much – by cutting it off or pulling it out roughly – can encourage an ear infection!

What do I have to consider when cleaning my ears and applying ear preparations?

In mild cases, unscented wet wipes for sensitive skin or soft tissues moistened with warm water or baby oil are sufficient to clean the accessible ear area (auricle and external auditory canal, as far as the fingers can reach). Important: Do not use cotton swabs to clean the ear canal! This pushes earwax and plaque even deeper into the auditory canal. If the dog makes sudden defensive movements, the stick can also injure the skin of the ear.

Regular cleaning can support healing in dogs with a preexisting condition or chronic inflammation. To avoid pain in the inflamed ear, the auricle is gently pulled up to insert the cleaner. Then the tip of the cleaner bottle is placed just in front of the ear canal and a sufficient amount of liquid is allowed to run along the auricle into the ear (the ear canal should be filled with the cleaner). The tip of the bottle is therefore not inserted into the ear canal – this avoids pain and contamination of the bottle.

The base of the ear is then gently massaged for about a minute. The dog then shakes out the cleaner and the residue can be removed from the ear with a cloth.

Why should otitis externa be treated by the vet as early as possible?

Ear infections can be very painful and severely limit a dog’s quality of life. Recurring otitis is frustrating for everyone involved: itching, pain, and constant visits to the vet can drive the dog and owner to despair.

In general, the earlier an ear infection is discovered, the better the chances of recovery. Regular check-ups by the veterinarian help to identify early symptoms and start appropriate therapy in good time, particularly in the case of dogs with pre-existing conditions. The veterinarian can identify and treat the underlying triggers of the otitis to prevent renewed inflammation (= recurrence).

What are the consequences of an untreated ear infection?

Repeated inflammations in the ear lead to chronic changes – for example narrowing and increased wrinkling in the ear canal, and rupture of the eardrums. These are often irreversible and therefore irreversible – they make cleaning more difficult and encourage the growth of bacteria and/or yeast fungi. As a result, otitis becomes independent and treatment becomes more difficult or even impossible.

Frequently Asked Question

What to do if you have an ear infection in your dog?

There are several ways to treat an ear infection in dogs. In the case of rather mild inflammation of the outer ear (otitis externa), home remedies such as tinctures of calendula, chamomile, coconut oil, echinacea, or apple cider vinegar can help.

What to do about chronic ear infections in dogs?

If the otitis is already chronic, i.e. if the ear canal has already narrowed due to the inflammation, or if proliferation, i.e. thickening, has occurred, additional systemic treatment may also be advisable. Depending on the case, cortisone and/or antibiotics with a decongestant effect are necessary for this.

What food for dogs with ear infections?

Since an ear infection in dogs is often caused by a food allergy, a high-quality dog diet is the best precaution. When buying dog food, make sure that it consists mostly of meat.

How often should you clean dog ears?

In the case of long-haired dog breeds and dogs with hanging and crooked ears, ideally, check them daily after going for a walk. This is particularly advisable in areas with grain fields. For all other dog breeds, a guide value of 1-2 times a month is recommended.

What helps dogs with itchy ears?

Ear cleaner: Earwax and encrustations in the ear can be loosened with a special ear cleaner so that the clean ear can then be treated. Mite-killing ointments: The active ingredients in them not only help to kill mites and eggs but also relieve itching at the same time.

Which oil for dogs for itching?

Safflower oil is one of the particularly healthy oils for dogs. It has a positive effect on fur, and skin and helps with itching. Fatty acids are of great importance. Safflower oil contains important linoleic acid.

What is antibacterial in dogs?

Natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar and brewer’s yeast can be used for this. Apple cider vinegar was already considered an important remedy in ancient Rome several thousand years ago. Due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, it helps as an “all-purpose remedy” for various ailments.

How can you prevent ear infections in dogs?

How can I prevent an ear infection? Regular ear checks are the best way to prevent otitis. Owners should check their dog’s ears about once a week for redness or dirt, some wax in the outer ear canal and pinna is normal.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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