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All About Dog Ear Infections

A dog’s ear is made up of the external, or outer ear, middle ear and inner ear, or ear canal. Every dog has a natural balance of yeast and bacteria inside the ear canal, and underneath the ear flaps. Sometimes, when the bacteria or yeast cells overproduce, an ear infection may occur. Fortunately, dog ear infections are not very uncommon.

Dog ear infections are specific to different parts of the ear. These different infections are known as Otitis Externa, Otitis Interna, or Otitis Media. “Otitis” simply means inflammation of the ear. An ear infection is not usually cause for concern, but if left untreated, it can turn into a serious problem. If an ear infection goes untreated, it can pass through the ear canal and into the central nervous system through the bloodstream, which can cause serious illness, hearing loss and in extreme cases, even death.

Types Of Ear Infections

There are two main types of dog ear infections: bacterial and yeast infections. Both have common and unique symptoms. Some common symptoms include excessive scratching or rubbing of the ears, redness and swelling in the ear canal and off-balance or dizziness.

Bacterial infections are the most common. They can be recognized if there is excessive discharge from the ears, and they often appear very swollen and red. A dog with a bacterial ear infection will not want to have his/her ears touched. The most common side effect of a bacterial ear infection is a strong, unmistakeable odor coming from the dog’s ears. A bacterial infection is usually caused by a foreign substance getting caught in the ear.

Yeast ear infections normally have similar symptoms to a bacterial ear infection, but the ears are usually quite dry, and the skin may become flakey. A yeast infection in the ears may actually spread to other areas of your dog’s body such as the eyes, nose, mouth and paws. Yeas infections in the ear are often caused by a buildup of ear wax or water in the ears.

Causes Of An Ear Infection

Moisture and hygiene – Many different things may cause an ear infection. Dogs who frequent water (such as swimming or baths) may carry excess water in the ear canals, which is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria to grow. It is also important to keep the ears clean and free from dirt to help prevent an infection as well.

Allergies and immune system – Dogs who suffer from allergies may contract ear infections more frequently than those with a normal immune system. Dog allergies tend to cause inflammation and infection in and around the ears. A dog with a weakened immune system or chronic respiratory condition may also be more susceptible to ear infections.

Breed of dog – Dogs who are prone to a buildup of ear wax, or who have floppy or hairy ears are also more likely to develop an ear infection. Some of these breeds include Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Beagles, Retrievers and Poodles. The more hair in the ear canal, the less air flow, and more bacteria growth may occur.

Ear mites – Often times, ear mites are confused for an ear infection, as they have the same symptoms. Ear mites are very important to treat right away, because they can attack the blood vessels in your dog’s ear. It is not uncommon for ear mites and ear infections to be related. In order to determine if your dog has ear mites or an infection, be sure to keep an eye out for mite feces or eggs.

What To Do

If you suspect your dog may have an ear infection, it is important to take him to the veterinarian right away. The quicker an ear infection is diagnosed, the quicker it will be to treat and the infection will not worsen.

For more information about dog ear infections, a list of symptoms to look for, treatment options as well as home remedies, visit

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