Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Ear Infection in Dogs

If your dog gets an ear infection, it can lead to a great deal of pain and discomfort, and can become a serious issue left untreated. In this post, our North Fort Myers vets discuss ear infections in dogs, including the causes, signs, and treatment options.

Ear Infections in Dogs

In dogs, ear infections are relatively common and you’ll likely notice symptoms fairly quickly if your dog has one. They may frequently scratch their ear, whine, or shake their head, and discharge or wax buildup may become an issue.

If your dog has an ear infection but isn't showing any signs, it can be easy to let it go untreated. Today, our North Fort Myers vets help break down how to check if your dog has an ear infection, what will happen if their infection goes untreated, and what you should do.

Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

There are three types of ear infections in dogs:

Otitis Externa (Outer Ear)

Also referred to as an “infection of the external ear canal”, or “otitis externa”, an outer ear infection is one of the most common types found in dogs. Dog breeds with large, floppy, or hairy ears (e.g., Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, Old English Sheepdogs, etc.), are more susceptible to ear infections, but they can occur in any dog breed.

Otitis Media (Middle Ear) & Otitis Interna (Inner Ear)

If outer ear infections aren’t detected or treated, they can often lead to middle and inner ear infections in dogs. Inner or middle ear infections in dogs can turn very serious and sometimes lead to vestibular symptoms, in addition to deafness and facial paralysis.

That’s why it’s critical that outer ear infections are detected and treated early, and that every effort to prevent an infection is made.

Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs

Due to our furry friends ' L-shaped ear canals, more fluid tends to collect in dogs’ ear canals than in humans. This makes them more likely to develop an infection.

Bacteria ear infections in dogs are probably the most common. However, other factors that can lead to infections include:

  • Injury to the ear canal
  • Allergies (skin diseases or food sensitivities)
  • Moisture creates an environment where yeast and bacteria thrive, causing bacterial ear infections in dogs
  • Wax buildup

Signs of an Ear Infection

Aside from wax buildup and discharge in the ear canal, some dogs will not show any symptoms of ear infection, and in others, serious symptoms can appear. Serious signs and symptoms of an ear infection may include:

  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Crusting or scabs in the ears
  • Redness or swelling in the ear canal
  • Odor
  • Head shaking
  • Dark discharge
  • Scratching at the affected ear

Treatment for Canine Ear Infections

If you believe your dog has an ear infection, you’ll want to visit your veterinarian right away for prompt treatment. This is important to both alleviate immediate pain and discomfort, and also prevent the infection from spreading to the inner or middle ear.

Be ready to brief your vet on your dog’s medical history, ear infection symptoms, recent activities, swimming, grooming, and diet. The veterinarian will then perform a physical exam, including a thorough examination of the ears.

A medicated ear cleanser can be used to clean your dog’s ears before the vet prescribes a topical medication for at-home use. Oral antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed for severe cases.

While most uncomplicated infections will clear up within 1 to 2 weeks, chronic ear infections in dogs will likely take longer to be resolved.

For severe ear infections in dogs, surgery may be recommended to remove the ear canal. This would eliminate diseased tissue and prevent infection from recurring.

Untreated Ear Infections in Dogs

A qualified vet will need to treat your dog right away if they are showing signs of an ear infection. An untreated ear infection or lapses in treatment can develop into severe infections and lead to serious medical issues that may be considered a veterinary emergency.

If antibiotics are prescribed, ensure the full course of treatment is completed, even if your dog’s ear infection looks as if it’s cleared up before the antibiotics are finished. As mentioned above, untreated outer ear infections may lead to more serious middle and inner ear infections.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Is your dog showing signs of an ear infection or other medical condition? Contact our North Fort Myers vets to have your pup cared for right away.

New Patients Welcome

We are accepting new patients at Van Roekel & Associates! Our veterinary team is dedicated to the care of North Fort Myers dogs and cats, horses, and farm animals. Reach out today to book your animal's first appointment.

Contact Us

(239) 694-7177 Contact