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How to identify and avoid doggone ear infections

photo of a vet checking the ears of a German Shepherd dogA common doggy ailment is the ear infection. They are tricky to diagnose since they can be caused by yeast infections, ear mites, allergies, hypothyroidism, wax, foreign objects, or excessive hair. The ear canal in humans is horizontal, but the canine ear canal is vertical; therefore, moisture or any kind of debris that gets in the ear is usually trapped. This skeletal glitch causes all sorts of disruption when it comes to the ears of man’s best friend.

As a pet owner, be on the lookout for these symptoms if you think your dog has an ear problem:

Unusual behaviors

  • Scratching the ear
  • Rubbing the ear on carpet/furniture
  • Head shaking/tilt
  • Loss of balance/walking in circles
  • Hearing loss

A look inside the ear reveals symptoms

  • A discharge or odor
  • Redness or swelling
  • Crusts or scabs

Candidates for ear infection

Dogs with allergies are far more likely to develop ear infections. If your dog has ears that stand up, he’s less likely to have problems. Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers and Springer Spaniels are more susceptible to canine ear infections. Some breeds with very hairy ears tend to have ear issues. Any dog can be a victim, however.

Right Diagnosis is critical

Because untreated infections can be very harmful, it’s important to make an appointment with Dr. Whitworth if you think your pet has an ear infection. He will use a special magnifying ear scope for the examination and collect samples to help confirm his diagnosis.

Without an accurate diagnosis, your dog cannot be treated effectively. Don’t let your dog suffer. There are so many possible causes for this condition, it’s important for him to be seen by an experienced professional like Dr. Whitworth.

How Are Ear Infections Diagnosed?

A veterinarian can usually diagnose an ear infection by examining the ear canal and ear drum with a magnifying ear cone similar to devices used on people. This may require sedation, especially if the dog is very painful. A sample of ear discharge may be examined to look for bacteria, yeast, and parasites. If a bacterial infection is suspected your veterinarian may send a sample of the ear discharge to a laboratory to see what bacteria is causing the infection. Other diagnostics may be done (such as checking for an underactive thyroid) if your veterinarian feels they are indicated.

Because there are multiple causes and contributing factors that cause ear infections in dogs, it is important that an accurate diagnosis is obtained by your veterinarian.

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