FAQs about ear infections in dogs


Ear infection is one of the most common infections in dogs and is a matter of concern for all pet parents. Here are some of the common queries about this disease.

Q: What are the common ear infections in dogs?

A: The ‘Otitis Externa’ or the infection on the external ear canal is the most common type of infection seen in dogs. And when the middle ear is affected, it is called ‘Otitis Media.’

Q: Which breeds are more prone to ear infections?

A: Ear infections can be commonly found in breeds like Cocker Spaniel, Poodle and German Shepherd.

Q: Is it seasonal?

A: It may occur all round the year but are more common in humid seasons. Many a times, dogs show signs of infection after a bath or after getting soaked in the rain.

Q: What are the causative factors?

A: Ear infections are caused by a variety of bacteria and/or fungi. Infestation of ear canal with ticks or mites may also lead to infections. Foreign bodies or tumors or hardened earwax may also cause ear infections. Allergy is another important factor.

Q: How can an infected dog be recognized?

A: Discomfort is the first symptom. When the infection is severe, the dog shakes his head strongly and tries to scratch his ears with paws. The inside of his ear often becomes red and infl amed and sometimes a black or yellowish liquid may also ooze out of the ears. An offensive odour may be smelt as well and the dog keeps on whining in pain.

Q: What to do in such cases?

A: As soon as you notice these symptoms, consult your vet immediately. He will give some tablets to reduce the pain. Rush him to the vet as early as possible and get him treated.

Q: What are the treatments for ear infections?

A: To treat ear infections effectively, fi rst the causative factor has to be identifi ed. The ear canal has to be examined thoroughly, preferably with an Otoscope to rule out the presence of foreign bodies or ticks inside. Bacterial or fungal infections have to be treated with suitable antimicrobials. To choose the right medication, it is better to examine a sample of the secretions from ear canal by doing culture and sensitivity test. As per your vet’s advice, the dog has to be dosed with tablets and/or eardrops. Sometimes antiseptic lotions may have to be applied inside the ear.
In some complicated cases, maggots may develop inside the ear canal. Such dogs have to be sedated and treated fi rst for the maggots and then for the ear infection.
Another important part of the treatment is the identifi cation of underlying disease. For example, if it is due to allergy or low thyroid function, it has to be diagnosed and treated. If this is not done, the dog may respond temporarily to treatment but the infection will relapse later.

Q: How far the treatment will be effective?

A: Ear infections will subside completely, when detected early and treated promptly. But in some dogs, they tend to recur. As said earlier, this may be due to an underlying disease, which also needs to be tackled along with the primary treatment. Besides, when the dog is not much co-operative to treatment, ear problems may recur frequently.

Q: How to prevent ear infections?

A : The golden adage “prevention is better than cure” holds good here also.

  • Preventive measures include regular cleaning of the ear has to be practiced since puppyhood.
  • The ears have to be cleaned once or twice a week preferably with dry cotton using fingers.
  • Never use ear buds because they may push the wax deep inside the ear.
  • If the earwax is hard, it may be softened using some medication as per your vet’s advice.
  • While giving bath, always take care that water never enters the ear canal.
  • Use cotton swabs inside your dog’s ears before giving him a bath and remember to promptly remove them afterwards.
  • Do not allow your dog to get soaked in rain or under a tap.

(Dr. C. S. Arun has been providing health care services in and around Mysore City. He runs 4 pet shops cum clinics to cater to the needs of pet parents. )