Ear Infection in a Dog


The ears are the most common dog body part to experience inflammation. For the owner, a ear infection in their four-legged friend is clearly visible.

The dog will continuously shake their head and desperately try to scratch. An ear infection in a dog is often very harmless and easy to treat. However, if the infection penetrates deep into the ear and head, even a slight ear infection can cause a serious illness. Therefore, it is important to go to the vet at the earliest possible opportunity.

With the more common ear infections, not only the symptoms should be treated, but also the cause. Many ear infections are caused by diet, habits or general animal hygiene.

In the following article we explain exactly how you should proceed with an ear infection in dogs and what preventive measures are available.

Ear infection treatment in a dog

What is an Ear Infection?

A distinction is made in the case of an ear infection between inflammation of the outer ear and inflammation of the middle and inner ear. The outer variant occurs much more frequently, is usually milder and easier to treat.

An ear infection in the outer ear refers primarily to the external auditory canal, which has an unpleasant itching and is shown by the animal with head shaking and scratching.

It is unclear how ear infections develop in the outer ear and inner ear, but in most cases the disease is due to an imbalance of the gastrointestinal system. In turn this leads to increased protective functions, which also show up inside the ear. However, this can not be the only reason. There are also several other causes that can trigger an ear infection in the dog.

Causes of Ear Infections in a Dog

How exactly an ear infection develops in a dog depends very much on the animal. The overall health status, the breed, the age and the living conditions of the animal play a major role.

1. Disturbance of the Gastrointestinal Tract

The most common cause of gastrointestinal disturbance is the disruption of natural protective functions. This inflammation manifests itself in the dog often in the form of an ear infection.  So, in addition to the actual treatment of the infection, there should also be a cure for the intestine. This will prevent further ear infections in the long term.

Above all, the gastrointestinal tract is thrown out of balance by a poor or incorrect diet. Not only the frequent lack of quality nutrients plays a role in the health of the animal, but also the unnatural ingredients and additives that are directly suspected of triggering allergies in the dog. Poor nutrition is also considered one of the main causes of ear infections.

To relieve the gastrointestinal tract of the animal, it is often enough to implement a feed conversion. In this case, only high-quality wet food or BARF ends up in the bowl. Within a few weeks, often recurring ear infections disappear due to the change in diet.

2. Allergies

Another very common cause of inflammation in the ears are allergies, especially to feed. There are some dog breeds significantly more affected than others. Research has shown that cereals in dried fodder and cheap wet food is one of the main causes of food allergies. Therefore, one of the main causes of ear infections in dogs. This is due to the carbohydrates and sugar creating the ideal nutritional base for bacteria, viruses and fungi. Alternatively, allergies to house dust mites or pollen are a possible cause of regular ear infections in dogs.

3. Parasitic Infestation

Parasites can also trigger an ear infection in the dog. For example, ticks and mites, which can settle inside the ear, can be responsible for ear infections. Just a small scratch or bite in the ear is enough. As soon as bacteria is penetrated, there is a risk of inflammation. Also, fleas can cause an ear infection in the dog, especially if there is an allergy to the flea faeces.

4. Foreign Body in the Ear

Foreign objects in the ear are also considered to be one of the most common triggers of ear infections. Even if very small material, such as sand or small stones, can cause inflammation in the ear. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to adequate ear hygiene in the dog, especially if it is difficult for the animal to keep its own ears clean.

Note: even with the wrong ear care, you can cause an ear infection in the dog! Cotton buds and liquid cleansers for human ears should not be used. Instead, it is recommended to clean the ear with a slightly moistened handkerchief, without penetrating too deep. Suitable products for professional ear cleaning in dogs are of course also available from specialist retailers.

5. Kidney Problems as a Cause

Although not as well-known as the other factors, kidney problems are also considered to be one of the main causes of ear infections in dogs. Since the kidney is responsible for transporting various toxins from the body, a limited function of this organ often leads to an overload of pollutants and endogenous toxins. The consequences of kidney problems are very extensive, an ear infection is one of the less serious symptoms. Again, a change to a high-quality feed helps.

List of Causes of an Ear Infection in Dogs:

  • Wrong diet
  • A disorder in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Allergies to animal feed, house dust, mites or other
  • Parasites such as ticks, mites or fleas
  • Foreign matter or dirt in the ear
  • Kidney disease
  • A hereditary predisposition
  • Infections with viruses, bacteria or fungi
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Undetected bites, scratches or similar in the ear
  • Damage in the eardrum that allows bacteria to enter

Symptoms of an Ear Infection in a Dog

The effects of an ear infection in the dog are usually easily recognizable. Clear indications for an ear infection in the dog are:

  • Constant scratching or rubbing on the ear
  • Frequent head shaking
  • Skew of the head
  • Reddish earcups
  • Warmer ears than usual
  • Possibly an unpleasant smell from the inside of the ear
  • Possibly secretions, liquids or increased earwax, which come from the ear
  • An increased sensitivity to pain in and in the ear

A Recommended Trip to the Vet

If the dog suffers from an inflammation of the ears, it is always necessary to go to the veterinarian to determine if a drug treatment is necessary. An ear infection in a dog can last for several weeks. However, the diagnosis is very simple. The vet has various instruments in order to take a closer look inside the ear. From this, it is possible to detect damage to the eardrum or inner ear, which can subsequently be treated if found. Following the examination, the veterinarian should clean the entire auditory canal of the animal and remove earwax and any secretions such as blood or pus completely.

Important: With the causes of the wrong nutrition and allergies the veterinarian can only alleviate the symptoms, but not the cause. Here, a feed conversion to a better feed is required.

Sick husky dog lying on table in vet clinics

Treatment for an Ear Infection

How exactly the ear infection in the dog is treated depends on many factors.

First, it is important that the severity of the inflammation is accurately determined. While a mild ear infection can certainly be treated with herbal remedies, the use of antibiotics is essential in severe cases.

With this in mind, antibiotics should only be taken if deemed required. As stated previously, in many cases, ear infections are caused by an imbalance in the intestine. This can be further intensified by the administration of antibiotics. Although acute ear infections can be treated in the long term, the risk that the dog suffers from ear infections again increases at the same time.

In addition to drug therapy, many vets use medical ear irrigation. This method removes the contaminants from the ear and softens the tissue to ensure the bacteria, viruses and fungi have less chance of lodging. If you want to clean your dog’s ears yourself, you can purchase special products from specialist retailers that gently clean the dog’s ears. Using cotton swabs or sharp cleaning agents can only increase or spread the ear infection.

Of course, how exactly the treatment looks depends on the causative factors of the ear infection. If it is a one-time infection, many doctors will only treat the causative agents, for example bacteria, fungi or viruses like symptoms. They are unlikely to take a closer look at the overall health of the animal.

However, if ear infections are more common in the dog, it is worth taking a closer look at the blood levels and organ performance of the animal. In the case of regular ear infections, it is very important to find the actual causative agent behind the infections in order to avoid recurrent inflammatory sites.

The Consequences of Untreated Ear Infections

The constant scratching of the dog’s ear can cause severe injuries. These will only get worse the longer the ear infection in the dog remains untreated. Also, damage to the ear canal and eardrum is a possibility which could (worse case scenario) cause the complete loss of hearing. Internal inflammation of the ears can also lead to severe problems with balance, occasionally falling over to fatal meningitis.

We recommend a trip to the vets if you suspect your dog has an ear infection.

In summary …

  • Loss of hearing
  • Damage to the inner ear
  • Possible meningitis with fatal consequences

Prevention of Ear Infections

Those who want to prevent ear infections should first look at the different causes. Clearly at the centre is a healthy gastrointestinal system that can fully meet the body’s protective functions. This is best achieved with a healthy, balanced and natural diet. For dogs, which have a very bad environment in the stomach and intestine area, due to regular medication or the wrong nutrition, there are special cures are available. These specialty cures can restore the natural processes in the organs.

Otherwise, it is very helpful to support and promote the immune system of the dog, so that ear infections can be prevented in advance. Therefore, it is important to focus on a balanced diet that provides the dog with everything they need. In addition to high-quality meat, the four-legged friend should receive enough vitamins and minerals from natural and healthy sources.

It is apparent ear infections are mainly triggered by dry food. Therefore, it is recommended to switch to high quality wet food or BARF. As a result, a switch can offer great results in the fight against regular ear infections.

Regular cleaning of the dog’s ear can also help to prevent ear infections. Here, however, it is important to proceed very carefully. If cleaned wrongly, significantly worse damage to the ear could be done. A damp cloth is suitable and can clean the auditory canal of the animal.

Note: For the development of the dog immune system, you can not only contact your veterinarian directly, but also a veterinary practitioner. Many pure natural and high-quality products can significantly promote the health of your four-legged friend.

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