What is up with your buddy's ears? He is scratching them all the time. He even wakes you up at night scratching. AND WOW! They smell really, really bad. There is some liquid-y brownish stuff down in them.
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons pets come into see us. We see them all year around. They do intensify in the summer months.
The most common signs of an ear infection are:
- Itching and scratching at the ear and head
- Shaking the head
- An amazingly bad odor from the ears
- Brownish discharge
- Redness and swelling of the ear flap and the ear canal
- Crying when head is touched or just won't let you pet his head anymore
- A head tilt (more severe infection in the inner/middle ear)
- Loss of balance (more severe infection in the inner/middle ear)
In our area, ear infections are caused by bacterial and often a yeast or 2 are mixed in to make it interesting. We can diagnose what the is cause by getting a small sample from the ear, staining it and looking under the microscope to identify what the is living in there.
Ear infections are caused by:
- Getting water down in the ear canal. This is a humid area and it is perfect to grow both bacteria and yeast. Floppy eared dogs and dogs that like to swim tend to have more problems.
- Food allergies: These cause atopy in dogs. This is an over all skin condition.
- Foreign bodies in the ear: Grass awns migrate into the ear or there might be a mass growing in the canal.
This type of ear infection in dogs is ALMOST NEVER CAUSED BY MITES! Sorry for yelling there. Ear mites don't really like dogs and won't live in their ears.
Dogs that have chronic problems, either year around or every year starting at a certain time can be a real challenge to diagnose and treat.
When an ear has been treated with OTC drops or even an Rx before and the ears haven't gotten completely better it's time to do a culture & sensitivity test to see exactly what is living down there. More importantly, this test will us tell what type of medication will KILL it! YAY! That's the ultimate goal.
This condition is incredible painful for your dog. It's hard to clean and treat at home because of this pain. Many dogs get really grouchy about having their owners clean and treat ears. Often, we need to sedate the pet pretty heavily to really clean them up well and we need to do a good look-see down in there. The ear drum can rupture. If this happens, certain drugs can't be applied into the canal until it has healed up.
Treatment is two-fold: STOP the itch so everyone can get some rest and treat whatever is causing the problem in the first place. There are some neat new medicines that help us with both of these goals. Let's look at your dog's ears before they get any worse!