What Causes Ear Infections and How to Treat Them

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What Causes Ear Infections and How to Treat Them

If your dog is constantly shaking his or her head, it likely isn’t in response to one of your questions. One of the most common health concerns that we see is ear infections and the tell-tale giveaway to this problem remains the persistent shaking of the head. In fact, we aren’t surprised if most pets experience one of these infections at some point in their lives, and some pets are more prone to developing them than others.

What causes ear infections?

In some instances, ear infections are a result of another condition. For example, dogs with allergies are more prone to ear infections, especially during allergy season. Additionally, some hormonal disorders, dogs with little fresh air exposed to the ear and, in extreme cases, foreign masses can all cause ear infections.

However, the most common reason for developing an ear infection is exposure to water. Dogs can get water in their ears from swimming, grooming or receiving baths. When water becomes present and stays stagnant in the ear, microorganisms grow in the ear and cause an infection. These organisms will emit a yeasty smell, which is another symptom of an ear infection in most cases.

How are they treated?

Once our staff determines for sure that your pet has an ear infection, the first thing we do is clean the ear with a gentle cleanser and begin to flush out the infection. We are careful to never use Q-Tips as they oftentimes aggravate the area, causing extreme pain for your pet and never use hard cleaners such as alcohol for the sensitive area.

After cleaning, most pets start to feel better already! Once the area is clean and dry, we administer a prescription medication to the area in the form of ointment or drops, which need to be administered at home for a given period of time to rid of the infection. A recheck is generally recommended to ensure that no additional medications are required and the ear is back to normal health.

When microorganisms are present and multiplying in the moist environment of your pet’s ear, there is no other way to rid of the infection than to undergo treatment. The longer you wait, the more painful the infection will be for your pet and the more serious (and expensive) the treatment will be.

In some cases, dogs have to undergo anesthesia and receive tubes to drain the access water from the ear while it heals. Until the ear infection is properly treated by a veterinarian, it will never go away and will continue to worsen over time. If an underlying condition is the culprit, a veterinarian will determine the course of action.

If your pet is itching his or her ears, shaking their head or displaying signs of discomfort when you touch the ear, seek veterinary care immediately. When caught early, the treatment process is simple and our staff can help provide tips for proper ear health.
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2014