Canine Ear Infections: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

October 18, 2009

in Cat Health

All ear infections, regardless of the cause, may have the same symptoms. Some symptoms to watch for at home that might mean your dog has an ear infection are:

Continous Shaking of the Head

Scratching at the head or ears

Constant rubbing of the head and ears on the floor or ground

A prominent redness or irritation in the ear canal

Liquid leaking from the ears

A brown or yellowish discharge present in the ears

Foul smell emanating from the ear

Severe pain whenever the ears are touched or petted

Veterinarian Visit – The Diagnosis

As soon as symptoms present themselves you should take your dog to the veterinarian. It is very important to note that you should not put anything in your dogs ears before seeing the veterinarian. If your dog happens to have a ruptured eardrum, this could lead to further problems including neurological symptoms such as a head tilt or walking around in circles.

For those dogs that experience frequent ear infections or ear infections resistant to treatment, it is highly imperative to seek out the underlying cause. In most cases, a physical examination can deliver this information. Upon examination, small ear canals, excessive hair in the ear and floppy pinnae can easily be seen. In addition, foreign objects or tumors are also easily visualized with a physical exam.

The method for ruling out a food allergy as the cause for the ear infection is by your veterinarian placing your dog on a hypoallergenic diet for a period of eight weeks. During this time, you will monitor your dog for any positive, negative or lack of change in symptoms.

Atopy can be ruled out with either blood tests or with skin testing, similar to allergy testing in people. These tests will usually tell specifically what things a dog is allergic to.

One or two blood tests may be given to determine if a certain endocrine organ is functioning properly. Usually, other symptoms present themselves besides ear infections to indicate there may be an endocrine problem.

Treatment for Ear Infection

Discovering the root cause of the ear infection is first and foremost, followed by treatment. In dogs with a food allergy, those foods should be avoided; those with Atopy will be required to take medications in order to control their symptoms and will most likely be on these medications for the rest of their lives. These medications commonly consist of corticosteroids, antihistamines, omega-3 fatty acid supplements and cyclosporine.

In addition, topical treatments, antibiotics, antifungals, shampoos and rinses may also be required. However, each dogs case is different and will depend on the severity of their allergy.

Most ear infections are treated with a combination of topical medication that you put in your dogs ear and oral medication. While treating an ear infection, it is important to clean a dogs ears once or twice weekly to prevent build-up of medication and debris in the ear. The ear must be dried well after cleaning. Ear infections are usually treated for at least two weeks but may need to be treated for longer. If an ear infection will not clear up, a culture should be done as well.

Dog Ear Infection Prevention

Treat all underlying diseases present in your dog

Dry ears completely after bathing

Dry your dogs ears out every time it swims.

Do not use water or cleanser in your dogs ears unless absolutely necessary and always make sure to dry them completely when you do.

Always remember: Keeping dogs ears dry is the key element to prevention and treatment of ear infections.

An experience veterinarian with great passion for writing, Heather Fox loves to share her knowledge about Dog Diseases Symptoms with fellow pet lovers. You can find more of her lessons including Dog Flea Allergy Dermatitis Treatment on

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