What Causes Dog Ear Infections?

Posted by Dr. Roth on

Basset Hound, what causes dog ear infections?

Ear infections are a common condition in dogs. These are relatively minor infections that can be easily treated most of the time. However, ear infections can have serious consequences when left untreated, including deafness, facial paralysis, and balance issues. Here's what pet parents need to know about them.

Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs

The most common indications a dog may be suffering from an ear infection are head shaking, scratching their ears, and rubbing their head on people or objects. Other possible signs are issues in the ear canal, including: 

  • Dark discharge
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Scabs or crusting
  • A strange odor

What Causes Dog Ear Infections?

Moisture in the ear canal, typically from water, is the most common cause of ear infections in dogs. Water may accidentally enter the ear canal during bathing, swimming, or outdoor water play. When moisture is trapped in the ear canal, it creates a prime environment for bacterial growth, which can result in an infection. 

Other causes of ear infections in dogs include the following:

Food Allergies

Too much grain or sugar in the diet may lead to ear infections in dogs. This type of infection typically affects both ears. Pet parents can rule out allergies by feeding a limited ingredient diet and checking for any improvement.

Foreigns Object Lodged in the Ear Canal

Foreign objects in the ear canal can create small abrasions on the skin of the inside of the ear that lead to infection. 

Certain Immune Disorders

Immune disorders that can lead to ear infections include canine lupus, pemphigus, and vasculitis. 

Ear Mites

The constant bites from ear mites can cause ear infections. Puppies are more likely to have ear mites than adult dogs. 

Risk Factors for Ear Infections in Dogs

Furry dogs with lots of hair in their ears, like cocker spaniels, Shih Tzus, and poodles, are more likely to develop ear infections than short-haired breeds. Breeds with long ears, such as Basset hounds and bloodhounds, are also more prone to developing ear infections. 

Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections not caused by allergies or immune disorders can usually be prevented by proper ear care.  Grooming hoods can be used during bathing to minimize the amount of water entering the ear canal. After bathing a dog, pet parents should use products such as Zymox Cleanser to clean the inside of their pet's ears. With long-haired breeds, trimming the hair inside the ears is recommended because it reduces the amount of moisture that can be trapped in the ear canal. 

Ear Cleanser - Dogs & Cats

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