Ear Diseases in Dogs

Ear disease is something that most dogs will suffer from at some point in their life. The good news is that most ear diseases can effectively be treated and cured in less time than you might think. Prompt treatment of the disease will give the dog a better prognosis, meaning early detection is of utmost importance.


The most common symptom of ear disease in a dog is pain when the ear is touched, such as when the dog is petted. The dog may also scratch at his ear with his paw or rub it on the floor. An ear infection or disease is likely when there is discharge or a foul odor coming from the ear canal. Some dogs do not complain at all but suddenly experience a loss of hearing or a high fever that cannot be linked to another illness.


Younger dogs often suffer from parasitic ear disease, which is a fancy way to say that the dog has ear mites, which are known scientifically as Otodectes cyanotes. This is a disease passed most often from the mother to the newborn of one dog but can be passed between adult dogs as well.
Yeast infections are quite common in the ear because the yeast that is naturally found in the ear can come in contact with a part of the ear that is not as stable as it should be, and it cannot fight off the overabundance of the yeast. Allergies, skin disease or too much moisture in the ear often contribute to the prevalence of yeast infections in some dogs. Bacterial infections of the ear are another common type of ear disease. This, like a yeast infection, is often due to the immune system not being able to fight off the bacteria that is normally present in the ear of a healthy dog.


Mites are often identified quite easily by a vet because there will be ear mites found in the ear, and there may even be mite eggs, dead mites, mite feces and substances left behind by the mites. This condition is also easily identifiable because the dog will experience intense itching that cannot be remedied at home. Yeast infections and bacterial infections often look similar, though an experienced vet will usually be able to tell which is which upon appearance. These infections usually cause a foul smell in the ear and mild to intense pain, and often, there is discharge involved as the ear attempts to rid itself of the infection.


While ear disease is quite common in dogs, most issues can be resolved with diligent care and proper medications. The first step in treating the ear infections is to determine the cause. Most ear disease treatment begins with a thorough cleaning of the ear canal, especially in the case of mites as mites live in the recesses of the ear canal.
Mites will be treated with daily doses of medication that is put into the ear for a week. This will usually take care of the problem, although many vets choose to do a second treatment in 1 week to ensure all of the mites and their eggs were killed. Bacterial and yeast infections will be treated at home with the daily administration of medications directly to the ear, and in some cases, oral antibiotics may also be necessary. Cleansing solutions will also be prescribed to keep the ear canal clean and to avoid the return of the infection. Curing a yeast or bacterial infection is much easier when the owner is able to keep the ear clean.


Many pet owners assume that a dog's ear disease will go away on its own, but this is simply not the case, as most do not. If the ear disease is not treated, the dog will not only continue to suffer, but she may lose her hearing or even struggle with her balance when her ear drum ruptures or becomes damaged. In rare instances, an untreated ear disease or infection could lead to death.