Category Archives: Ear Infections

Ear Infections


Ear infections are one of the most common reasons dogs and cats come to see our vets.

Symptoms we expect owners to report are :

1. Scratching his/her ears

2. Rubbing his/her head along the ground

3. Shaking his/her head

4. Red or hot ears

5. Discharge visible in the ears

6. Smelly ears

7. Dogs with pendulous ears eg. the Cavalier King Charles or Cocker Spaniel are more commonly affected.

Some key points owner should know about ear infections:

1. The ear canal is very long in a dog and the cat. To fully examine it a vet needs to look into it using an otoscope. As well as being long and narrow, it is usually moist and has very little air circulating, so it is the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply. Dogs and cats can also get ear mite infestations which make them very itchy- the vet will usually spot these tiny mites with the otoscope.

2.Ear infections need to be treated as soon as possible.  At the very least a long course of ear drops will be needed and often oral antibiotics and anti inflammatories are also required.

3. Ear infections take a long time to clear up- the average ear infection takes between 2 and 4 weeks to clear up but a severe infection can take up to 8-10 weeks. Therefore it is very important that any medication given by the vet is taken as instructed and  for the full duration.

4. Ear infections have a tendancy to re-occur, especially if not treated for long enough.  It is important that the vet examines the ear with otoscope when treatment is finished in case there is any residual infection deep in the canal- if there is,  more treatment will be required.

5. For dogs who have re-occuring infections, we advise the owners to clean the ears regularly using an effective ear cleanser. This tends to reduce the frequency of infections. Our vets and nurses routinely  show owners how to clean their pets ears effectively.

6. Occasionally re-occuring ear infections can be a symptom of an underlying allergy, especially if a dog is inclined to scratch other parts of his/her skin.

Ear Infections


Infection of the ear canal is one of the most common types of infections seen in dogs.

A dog with an ear infection is uncomfortable and the ear canals are sensitive. The dog shakes its head and scratches its ears trying to get the debris and fluid out. The ears often become red and inflamed and develop an offensive odour.

Ear mites can cause several of these symptoms, including a black discharge, scratching, and head shaking. Sometimes, ear mites will create an environment within the ear canal which leads to a secondary infection.

Dogs with ear infections are miserable. Their ears are a source of constant pain resulting in head shaking and scratching. However, that is not the only problem. Head shaking and scratching can also cause broken blood vessels in the ear flap, requiring surgery, and chronic ear infections can penetrate the ear drum and result in an internal ear infection.

A thorough examination allows us to determine whether the eardrum is intact and if there is any foreign material in the canal. When a dog is in extreme pain and refuses to allow the examination, it may be necessary to sedate or completely anesthetize the dog for a thorough examination.

The results of the examination usually determine the course of treatment. If there is a foreign body or tick lodged in the ear canal, the dog is sedated so that it can be removed. Some dogs have such a heavy build-up of debris that sedation is needed to cleanse the canal and examine it completely. An important part of the evaluation of the patient is the identification of underlying disease. Many dogs with chronic or recurrent ear infections have allergies or low thyroid function. If underlying disease is suspected, it must be diagnosed and treated. If this cannot be done, the dog is less likely to have a favourable response to treatment. Also, the dog might respond temporarily, but the infection will recur (usually when ear medication is discontinued). Nearly all ear infections that are properly diagnosed and treated can be cured. However, if an underlying cause remains unidentified and untreated, the outcome will be less favourable. A progress check may be needed before the process is completed, but we expect ultimate success.

Closing of the ear canal is another result of a chronic ear infection. There are medications that can shrink the swollen tissues and open the canal in some dogs. However, some cases will eventually require surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the vertical part of the ear canal and to remove swollen tissue from the ear canal.

The ear canal may be medicated by following these steps:
– Gently pull the ear flap straight up and hold it with one hand.
– Apply a small amount of medication into the vertical part of the ear canal while continuing to keep the ear flap elevated. Hold this position long enough for the medication to run down.
– Put one finger in front of and at the base of the ear flap, and put your thumb behind and at the base.
– Massage the ear canal between your finger and thumb. A squishing sound tells you that the medication has gone into the horizontal canal.
– Release the ear and let your dog shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, debris will be dissolved so it can be shaken out.