Ear infections are one of the most common problems in pets, especially dogs. Ear infections may be closely related to skin conditions because skin allergies can lead to repetitive ear scratching, introducing bacteria into your pet’s ear, causing an ear infection. Chronic ear infections are also be caused by bacteria or yeast overgrowth, and can cause pain and deafness.

Ear infections are usually secondary to an underlying condition that allows for infections to develop:

  • Pets with a lot of hair in their ears are prone to ear infections when yeast builds up in the warm and moist area
  • Bacteria or yeast overgrowth
  • Certain disorders or diseases may cause ear infections, including:
    • Allergies (environmental and food)
    • Ear Mites
    • Foreign bodies
    • Skin disorders (like seborrhea)
    • Thyroid disease (dogs)
    • Tumors or polyps in the ear

During your pet’s wellness exam, we will check your pet for an ear infection. If we see any signs of an ear infection, we may collect a sample from your pet’s ear and examine it under a microscope to determine if the infection is due to yeast, bacteria, or mites. We may also collect a sample for culture and sensitivity testing to identify the exact organisms present. This helps our veterinarian select the best medication to use to treat the ear infection. Treatment for ear infections is based on eliminating the bacteria or yeast with antibiotics or antifungal medication while working to resolve the underlying condition causing the ear infection. After the ear infection is cleared up and the underlying condition causing the infection is diagnosed and treated, at-home regular ear cleanings and resolution of the underlying condition help to prevent recurrence.

What Are the Signs of an Ear Infeciton?

If your pet has an ear infection, your pet may shake his or her head, scratch their ears, or rub their ears against furniture or the floor. Some pets with severe infections may cry or groan as they rub and scratch their ears. Some pets scratch so severely that their nails create wounds on the skin around their face, neck, and ears.

Please call us if your pet is exhibiting any of the following signs of ear infection:

  • Itchy or painful ears
  • Head shaking
  • Discharge and odor from the ears
  • Narrowing or even closing of the canals
  • Middle ear infection (otitis media)
  • Paralysis of the nerves in the face
  • Hearing loss
  • Abnormal pupil size
  • Inability to keep balance, stand, or walk
  • Nausea
  • Head tilt