Ear Care for Older Dogs

Whether they are pointy or floppy, long or short, dogs' ears are a sensitive part of their bodies. Unattended ear infections in dogs can lead to serious problems and possible hearing loss. If the ears smell bad, your dog is scratching at them or shaking his head, or if he acts in pain when you touch them, it could be a sign of an infection and the time to call your veterinarian. Also, just like the warnings for human ears, dogs' ears are no place for cotton swabs.

Signs of ear infection in dogs

  • Unpleasant odor
  • Excessive scratching and pawing of the ear and head
  • Sensitivity to touch, often resulting from pain
  • Constant tilting/shaking of the head to one side
  • Black or yellowish discharge
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
  • Changes in behavior like listlessness, depression or irritability
  • Accumulation of dark brown wax
  • Loss of balance or hearing and disorientation
  • Bleeding or discharge resembling coffee grinds

Causes of ear infections in dogs

Ear problems are relatively common in dogs, especially during the summer months and in breeds with floppy ears. All ear problems have an underlying cause, which must be determined. Simply treating the ear for inflammation and infection guarantees that the problem will reoccur.

Because of the many different causes of a dog's ear infection, it is important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian, who can then determine the proper medication or treatment.

  • Allergies - In dogs allergies manifest themselves as skin itching and irritation. The ear is lined with very sensitive waxy skin, which also becomes itchy in allergic dogs. These dogs scratch and rub at their ears causing inflammation and the release of exudates that grow bacteria and molds. Types of allergies: dust mites - cigarette smoke - mildews - grasses - pollens - weeds - certain ingredients in their food.

  • Parasites - Ear mites are tiny infectious organisms resembling microscopic ticks. Infection usually produces a characteristic dry black ear discharge commonly said to resemble coffee grounds.

  • Bacteria and Yeast - Dogs have long ear canals that can hold water after a bath, swim, or run through tall, wet grass. Add to this a floppy ear that prevents good ventilation of the ear canal and you have a warm, moist, dark environment in which yeast thrive. The more moisture yeast get, the worse the infection will be.

  • Foreign object - It is not uncommon to find foreign objects in the ears of dogs. The most common are grass seeds. These are irritating and contaminated with potential environmental pathogens. Affected animals are extremely uncomfortable and a common complaint is frequent or persistent head-shaking or pawing at the head.

  • Trauma - An ear hematoma is simply a blood clot that forms in between the skin and the cartilage of the ear. Ear hematomas are usually the result of excessive blunt trauma that results in broken and bleeding blood vessels. This trauma is usually self induced and a result of chronic itching.

  • Hormonal Abnormalities - Hypothyroidism is an inadequate production of hormone from the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism commonly affects the coat and skin and can causes hair loss (balding), excessive dandruff, poor hair re-growth after clipping, increased pigment in the skin, and ear infections.
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Dog Ear Care

Otoscope - A high intensity Professional Veterinary Otoscope lets you examine your pet's ears up close so you can detect ear conditions before they become problems.

Clensing Pads - Keeping your pet's ears clean and dry is your best defense against ear infections. It's recommended you clean your pet's external ear canal 1-2 times per week.

Ear Clens Pads are convenient pads that work gently; yet contain powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal ingredients that help change the pH in your pet's ear, making it much less likely to harbor the growth of yeast and bacteria.

Clensing Solution - For areas of the ear you cannot reach with a pad, squirt a few drops of Ear Clens Solution in the ear.

Drying Agents - Relieve your pet's irritating ear itch and help prevent bacteria and fungal growth by keeping ear canals dry. Dry ears stay clean and healthy and odor-free.

Wax Build-up - Oti-Clens is a cleaning solution that breaks down the wax buid up allowing you to wipe away.

Ear Mitacide - Ear mites can cause your dog to be miserable. Ear mite treatments icon can eliminate these irritating, common parasites that your pet can pick up. If itchy ears are accompanied by a black, crumbly discharge, there's a good chance your pet has ear mites. And the constant scratching means that he'll be more prone to ear infections.

A gentle herbal formulafor dogs and cats to clean and disinfect the ears, dissolve ear wax, and remove foreign debris.

Dog Ear Infections

  • Aural Hematoma - An aural, or ear, hematoma is a swelling in the earflap resulting from an injury. When the tiny blood vessels in the ear's cartilage rupture and bleed, the hematoma - a firm, fluid-filled swelling - will appear within the dog's ear. The examining veterinarian will be able to treat this hematoma by any of several procedures that drain the fluid.

  • Deafness - usually brought on by age, trauma, loud noise or infection, can also be hereditary or congenital. Unfortunately, once diagnosed, clinical deafness is a lifelong condition.

  • Ear Mites - are common parasites that are highly contagious, often spread from pet to pet. Excessive itching is the most common sign. Ear mites create dark, crumbly debris that look like coffee grinds.

  • Haematoma of the Ear Flap - means blood has accumulated in the ear flap (pinna). Vigorous head shaking, scratching or trauma to the ear area result in damage to the blood vessels, often set off by infection, mites, fleas or debris.

  • Otitis Externa - Infection of the external ear canal and Otitis Media, infection of the middle ear, are usually caused by bacteria or yeast.

Other ear problems include accumulation of wax, matted hair, debris or a foreign object lodged in the ear canal. When seeking treatment, act quickly. If your dog has an ear infection, he/she will be in considerable discomfort. Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections while antifungals are administered for yeast.

Dog ear infections can also be indicative of other problems such as allergies, hormonal abnormalities or hereditary diseases. Your veterinary will determine this during your visit and suggest the best course of action.