By: Debbie Reynolds, DVM
We see dogs with ear infections literally every day in our veterinary practice. It is a very common condition, especially with long, floppy eared dog breeds. There are some signs you should be aware of to recognize if your dog may have an ear infection.
ITCHING. If your dog is sitting around with his back paw stuck in his ear this is a sign of an ear infection! I often hear owners complaining from lack of sleep from the thump-thump-thump during the night from trying to itch their ear. Some pets will scratch in the area of the ear and end up making sores around the ear area.
HEAD SHAKING. If you are hearing a lot of ear flapping going on, this indicates an ear infection, too. They can full out shake their head or they may be just walking around with their head tilted a bit because of the discomfort.
REDNESS/INFLAMMATION. If you look inside the ear you may notice redness or a thickened ear flap. If you have a long eared dog, just flip the ear over and look underneath.
DEBRIS. Are you cleaning your dog's ears just to find out it is all back the next morning? Often if you look in the ear canal you will see a brown, waxy debris. This is indicative of an ear infection.
ODOR. Many ear infections will have an odor ... an unpleasant odor. If you notice an odor that you can't pinpoint, flip the ear over and take a whiff. That might be the source.
SENSITIVITY. If you rub your dog's ears and they really get into it, you know - making whining noises and leaning in to it - they may have an ear infection. You are in essence scratching where they can't reach and it feels good to them.
If you see these signs, you will need medicine for your dog's ears. It won't go away on it's own. A common mistake is many people assume it is ear mites and treat with over the counter ear mite medication which does not help. Almost always it is a bacterial or yeast infection that requires medication in the ear. The exception would be if you have a new kitten or puppy around that may transmit ear mites to your older pet.