Golden Retriever ear infection. Beagle mix ear infection. Labrador Retriever ear infection. Whatever type of dog you have, if his ears are infected or inflamed the medical term for
this condition is otitis. The word otitis comes from the latin for ear
is categorized by the location of the infection or inflammation in your
dog’s ear: external (the ear canal), media (the middle ear) or internal
(the innermost portion of your dog’s ear).
media and internal otitis can cause permanent deafness, and internal
otitis is a medical emergency as your dog’s balance may be severely
impacted. However, as most cases of otitis media and internal otitis
begin as external otitis, you need to get all ear infections looked at
otitis is an infection or inflammation of your dog’s ear canal. The ear
canal is L-shaped, beginning as the vertical chute you see looking into
your dog’s ear and then turning into a horizontal pathway that leads to
your dog’s eardrum.
otitis is the most common type of ear infection in dogs, and the vast
majority of dogs who get external otitis are those dogs with long,
droopy ears such as Basset Hounds and Beagles. Certain breeds who are prone to having narrow ear canals such as Chinese Shar-Peis
and dogs who have a lot of hair and fur around their ears impeding air
flow to the ear also have an increased tendency to get external otitis.
from your dog’s physical characteristics which may make him more prone
to external otitis, there are several other triggers that can cause ear
canal infection or inflammation: parasites such as ear mites;
a build-up of debris such as ear wax; a foreign object such as a grass
seed lodged in the ear canal; water trapped in the ear after swimming;
bacterial or fungal agents; and tumors of the ear canal. Allergies
also appear to be a primary cause for a good portion of external otitis
cases. Finally, certain hormonal conditions – a low thyroid level for
example – are thought to play a role in the development of external
of external otitis include pain when the ear is touched, scratching at
the ear, shaking the head, swelling or redness of the ear flap or ear
canal, and odor or discharge from the ear. If your dog is licking and
scratching his ear excessively this can also lead to other conditions
such as hair loss, skin irritations and hematomas.
media is an infection or inflammation of the middle portion of your
dog’s ear. The middle portion of your dog’s ear contains the eardrum,
the structure that helps to transmit sound. In severe cases of otitis
media, your dog’s eardrum may rupture.
middle ear infections or inflammations are caused by cases of external
otitis spreading further into the ear. Other, much less frequent causes
of middle ear infections include tumor blockages, bacteria entering the
middle ear through the bloodstream, or bacteria entering through the
Eustachian tube (a small tube that connects the ear with the nasal
symptoms of otitis media are similar to those for external otitis.
However, with otitis media your dog’s pain will likely be more
pronounced and your dog may tilt his head to one side.
otitis is an infection or inflammation of the inner ear. The inner ear
includes mechanisms for both hearing and balance.
cases of internal otitis begin as ear canal or middle ear infections or
inflammations that travel to the inner ear. Other causes of internal
otitis include tumors or infections that spread through the bloodstream.
your dog is suffering from internal otitis he will be dizzy — his inner
ear is not functioning properly to be able to transmit balance
information to the brain information.
As such, in addition to the pain associated with all types of otitis, a
dog with internal otitis will likely have a head tilt or tilt his whole
body, be unsteady on his feet, bump into things, circle or pace, and
move his eyes strangely. Because your dog will be feeling dizzy and
thus nauseated, your dog may also vomit. If your dog’s balance function
is not working properly, this is a medical emergency and he needs to be
taken to the vet immediately.
Diagnosis & Treatment
you bring your dog to the vet for a suspected ear infection or
inflammation, your vet will likely begin by conducting a physical
examination of your dog’s impacted ear and by taking samples of any ear
discharge for culturing and evaluation under a microscope. Other
diagnostic steps your vet may take include x-rays to get a clearer
picture of the extent and potential causes of the infection, allergy
testing if allergies are suspected, skin scraping to look for
parasites, and blood tests to look for potential underlying conditions
which may have triggered the ear problem.
for external otitis usually involves having your dog’s ear cleaned by
the vet and putting your dog on a course of medication such as an
anti-fungal medication or an antibiotic depending on the cause. Your
dog may also be given an anti-inflammatory. The medication may have to
be administered to your dog in pill form via his mouth or placed
directly in his ear such as in the case with Baytril Otic, a commonly prescribed ear medication. In cases where the external otitis has been caused
by a blockage to the ear such as a tumor or even a sizable foreign
object, surgery may be required. If allergies are causing the external
otitis, your vet will have to determine the cause of the allergies and
treat the allergies as well as the ear infection.
of otitis media and internal otitis is somewhat more invasive as these
conditions involve deeper parts of your dog’s ear. Treatment
techniques, which often require your dog be sedated, include having
your vet flush out the ear and also creating a small puncture in the
eardrum to decrease ear pressure and drain the middle and interior
areas of the ear. Your vet will also likely put your vet on a course of
oral antibiotics and perhaps pain-alleviating medication.
You can help safeguard your dog from ear infections by keeping his ears clean and dry.
While you should never attempt to stick your finger or any cleaning
tool into your dog’s ear canal, you can use a cotton ball to keep the
ear flap clean and dry which will prevent the dirt and moisture from
traveling into your dog’s ears. Addressing any potential underlying
triggers of ear infections — allergies, for example — can help prevent
ear infections from developing.