Ear infections are a common illness in dogs, especially in dogs with floppy ears–such as hounds and cocker spaniels. The design of the pet’s ears keeps moisture caught inside. If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, you should take your pet to a veterinarian. An untreated ear infection can result in serious damage to the dog’s ears and result in a hearing loss. However, there are many steps you can take at home to prevent ear infections in dogs and to make the dog more comfortable until the ear infection is resolved.
As guardian of a dog, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of canine ear infections. Knowing the signs will give you the opportunity to act quickly if your dog develops an ear infection. Symptoms include the ears becoming red, inflamed or feeling warm to the touch. The ear may have an offensive odor and a black or yellow discharge. Some dogs will paw at the ears, shake their heads repeatedly or tilt their heads to one side. Other dogs may exhibit behavior that indicates the ear is sensitive to touch.
While your dog has an ear infection, your veterinarian probably will recommend that you clean the pet’s ears twice each day at home using a prescribed ear-cleaning solution. If your dog is prone to ear infections, cleaning the ears at least once a week is usually necessary as a preventive measure. For dogs less likely to get ear infections, cleaning the ears can usually be limited to once a month.
Moisture is one of the primary culprits behind ear infections in dogs. If you have a hound or other dog with floppy ears, turn your dog’s ears inside out and leave them that way for about a half hour each week. This will give the ears a chance to dry out. If your dog is getting a bath or going swimming, put cotton balls in the pet’s ears to prevent moisture from getting inside. Once your dog gets out of the water, dry the outside of the ears and the earflap. Gently dry the inside as far as you can easily reach with a cotton ball, but do not push the cotton ball into the dog’s ears. Never use a cotton swab when cleaning or drying a dog’s ears.
Parasites–especially ear mites–are a common cause of ear infections in dogs. If your dog is prone to getting infestations of ear mites, your veterinarian may recommend a preventive medication. The topical flea, tick and heartworm preventive Revolution is often prescribed for this purpose because it also prevents infestations of ear mites.