Dog and human ears are similar in one thing: healthy ears clean themselves, as the exfoliated epithelium together with the earwax is secreted towards the outside of the ear.
However, the shape of the ear canal itself is quite different in humans and dogs, and this is also one of the main reasons that inflammation occurs more often in dogs than in humans. The human ear canal is a horizontally shaped, straight-running tunnel-shaped structure. In dogs, it is L-shaped, making the exfoliated epithelium and wax more difficult to remove. This creates a moist, dark environment that is a great place for bacteria and yeast to multiply. Dogs with upright ears are less prone to this, as air is constantly circulating in such ears. Dogs with floppy ears (cocker spaniels, basset hounds) on the other hand, however, often have problems with inflammation as the ear is moist all the time. In some breeds, however, a hairy ear canal is a problem, with hair obstructing the secretion of cellular debris and ear wax.
Seasonal ear infections can be caused by allergies or foreign bodies in the ear (in the spring, these are often grass seeds). Dogs that like to stay in the water are also prone to developing inflammation.
Chronic ear infections are long-lasting and often a little more annoying to treat. It usually occurs in connection with allergies and not so much with the shape of the ear itself. Cushing’s disease or thyroid problems can also be the cause.
HOW DO WE RECOGNIZE EAR INFECTION?
Infection of the ears is usually quickly recognized, as it is accompanied by typical symptoms:
- shaking its head,
- scratching ears,
- rubbing the head against objects, the floor,
- discharge from the ears (often a very unpleasant odor),
- redness of the ear canal,
- blood suffusion in the ear.
The vet will definitely take a swab of the ear canal and try to determine if the inflammation is caused by bacteria, yeast or scabies. The scabies can be determined by a vet immediately under a microscope. However, laboratory tests are often needed to determine the presence of bacteria and yeast.
Treatment depends on the degree of inflammation. It is always recommended to clean the ears to remove all dirt. If the inflammation has already progressed, the ear may be sore, so be very gentle when cleaning. If the ear area is too sensitive, this should be done by a veterinarian, as the animal may be sedated. Topical medications that have antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory effects are also used. Antibiotics can also be given systemically. Anti-inflammatory medications can sometimes be used systemically when we want to reduce pain, redness and swelling.
Unpleasant ear infections can be avoided by regular ear cleaning. The task is very easy if we get the dog used to it from an early age. The cleaner, which should be at room temperature, is poured into the dog’s ear, which is held up, and the base of the ear is gently massaged to soften and release the accumulated dirt. Wipe off excess cleaner from the ear and let the dog shake his head to remove any remaining cleaner and dirt from his ears.
For puppies where the problem is that the ear canal is constantly wet, it is highly recommended to use ear care powder, which prevents bacterial infections as it keeps the environment dry.