Oz: Ear infections in dogs can become a chronic malady

In dogs, ear infection actually tends to be chronic and may occur again and again for their entire lives.

As a father of two sons, the oldest a four-year-old, I get to constantly deal with some sort of illness they acquire.

Ear infection seems to repeat itself quite often in many children. I always kid around with my elderly clients, about the fact that even now when their children are older, they don’t get to rest, because now their pets display the same health issues that kept them busy back in the day with their kids.

In fact, in dogs, ear infection is not associated necessarily with young age, it actually tends to be chronic and may occur again and again for their entire lives.

Many dogs owners are very frustrated by their dogs’ ongoing ear problems.

So many people face this problem but not many  are aware of the very important fact that it is related to their dog’s ear issues.

Ear infections in dogs are usually secondary to other pathology in the body, usually not even related to the ears themselves.

The main underlying cause for ear infections is actually allergies.

Dogs can be allergic to many things, but you will be shocked to know how many dogs are allergic to their food.

Even if they have been fed with the same food for years, dogs might still develop food allergy as an adult.

Food allergy can be manifested by ear infection sometimes as a sole symptom.

Another common symptom associated with allergies is abnormal tendency to lick the paws.

Low function of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is also a common cause for ear infections.

You might spend years trying to treat your dog’s ears, but without treating the primary cause you will never be able to permanently cure the infection.

The ear is divided to three parts. Inner ear, middle ear and the external ear, which consists of the ear canal and ear flap.

The most common infection is of the external ear, a condition called “otitis externa.”

It is crucial to understand, without isolating the underlying cause and treating it, the ear infections will not get resolved.

Some breeds, such as cocker spaniels, poodles, retrievers, terriers, and shar-peis seem more prone to ear infections, but they can still occur in any breed.

Ear infection can be caused by either bacteria or yeast. Some conditions promote ear infection such as moisture, especially in swimmers.

Anatomical factors such as narrow ear canal or presence of hair in the canal can also promote infection. Presence of a foreign body leads to infection as well.

Here in the Okanagan, there is massive growth of spear grass, which tends to penetrate to dog’s ears and paws.

A dog with ear infections is miserable. His ear canals are sensitive. He shakes his head often in an effort to get the debris and fluid out, and scratches his ears

The ears often become red and inflamed and develop an offensive odour.

A dark brown or yellowish discharge commonly occurs. The infection can affect one or both ears.

The infection is a source of constant pain resulting in head shaking and scratching.

However, that is not the only problem. Head shaking and scratching can also cause broken blood vessels in the ear flap, requiring surgery.

Chronic ear infection can lead to thickening of the skin to a point that the canal becomes obstructed and a corrective surgery is required.

Chronic ear infections can also get complicated by spreading of the infection to the middle and inner ear due to rupturing of the eardrum, this condition can lead to permanent damage.

If your dog is suffering from an ear infection take it to be checked by a veterinarian.

The infection itself should be treated by medicine ears drops. As for chronic cases, an effort should be taken to find the underlying cause of the recurrent ear infections.

Consult your veterinarian about the various tests available for identification of underlying disease. Without proper diagnosis of the cause, treatments will not be completely successful.

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