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What Are Dog Ear Infection Symptoms?

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I have two dogs with floppy ears (if I include Derby, three) and early on I learned the answer to the question: What Are Dog Ear Infection Symptoms?

Only a few months after I was born my parents got a pure bred Golden Retriever, named Kiko.  I wrote a little bit about her in my Puppy In Training Timeline.  One thing I did not mention in my timeline was the fact that poor Kiko had chronic ear infections.  Later I would discover that this very common in floppy eared dogs and both my Labrador Retrievers, Derby and Stetson have had reoccurring ear infections.

Dog Ear Infection Symptoms

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One of the many things we learn as Guide Dog puppy raisers is to inspect our dogs from head to toe on a daily basis.  We do this by first turning our dogs “belly up” between our legs, getting them relaxed, and then feeling and inspecting every part of their body including the ears.  It’s during these inspections that I will first notice any kind of ear infection.  Pretty much every time I’ve found an ear infection in my dogs it begins with one ear being a bit dirty usually from some kind of discharge.   Basically in my experience the discharge can look anything like a little bit of extra dirt to wet looking slime.  Another common thing I’ve noticed is a redness in the ear and also sometimes the inside flap of the ear gets a leathery appearance.  One final symptom I’ve noticed is a change in smell.  A smelly ear is another possible sign of an ear infection.

Those are some of the most common dog ear infection symptoms I’ve noticed.  However, I had one experience with Derby where I did not really notice any unusual discharge.  Here are the symptoms I noticed with Derby:

  • Scratching the ear
  • Redness inside the ear
  • No discharge
  • Shaking of the head

I did not suspect an ear infection after these symptoms, but after a routine check up the vet determined that he did indeed have an ear infection.

Just a couple weeks ago Stetson and I made a trip to the veterinarian’s office to have his ears check.  This time it was a bacterial infection causing the  infection.  Last time it was a yeast infection.  I’m not too sure how many different kinds of ear infections there are, but so far Stetson and Derby have both had yeast and bacterial infections in their ears.  Treatment is different depending on the infection so I would not try to self-diagnose your dog.  If you notice an infection in your dogs ear make sure you get him checked out by your veterinarian.

What Cause Dog Ear Infections

Check out this post at Petfinder.com: What causes dog ear infections, and how can I prevent them

In the petfinder.com article the question is about floppy eared black labs just like my two boys.  Here’s a little bit from the article:

Certain breeds, such as Labradors and others with long, hanging ears, are more at risk of getting ear infections. Other dogs, like poodles, have a lot of hair in their ear canals that puts them at risk for infections when wax and dirt become trapped within the hair. Any breed of dog that has a type of allergic skin disease can suffer with chronic ear infections as well.

After reading that paragraph I guess Stetson is doubly predisposed to ear infections because he has dog skin allergies and floppy ears…no wonder why he seems to get ear infections 3-4 times a year!  I had heard before that long eared floppy dogs are much more likely to get ear infections than dogs with cropped or ears pointing upward like a German Shepherd.  However, for some reason Linus and his floppy ears have been immune to the ear infection (knock on wood).  The difference I’ve noticed between Linus and my two Labs is that his ear canal is much wider than either Stetson’s or Derby’s.  I’m guessing that less debris or dirt gets caught up in his ear canal (because it is much wider) making Linus’s ear a less susceptible to bacteria compared to Stetson and Derby.

How Do I Prevent Dog Ear Infections

More from the Petfinder.com article:

The most important thing you can do to prevent infections is to keep your dog’s ears clean. There are many different ear cleaners available. While over-the-counter products can be helpful, your veterinarian probably has products that are safer and more effective. Some ear cleaners even have medications in them that kill bacteria and the yeast that contributes to infections.

Our veterinarian prescribed a cleaning solution for Stetson and Derby’s ear that we squirt and drain about once a week to keep the ear canal clean.  I’m not sure if this is the medicated cleaner mentioned in the article, but it seems to keep their ears clean.

One final point on prevention: If you take your dog swimming or give him a bath make sure you thoroughly dry out his ears.  If water gets trapped in the ear canal it could be the cause of your puppies next ear infection.

Do you have any tips on how to prevent dog ear infections?  Do you know of any early dog ear infection symptoms that might help prevent a visit to the veterinarian?

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  1. My only concern about using chemicals as a ear cleaner is that eventually they can strip the ear of ‘good bacteria’ and ear mites will thrive. For long term maintenance the natural dog ear solutions are best. I use and swear by pet-plicity dog ear cleaner.

  2. Thanks for the tips especially the tip about making sure that the dog ears are dry after every bath or shower. I always miss that! I have a good article having tips on how to properly clean dog ears. You might want to check it out too http://goo.gl/9t5O0

  3. We haven’t tried vinegar for dog ear infections yet. Right now we have Stetson on a new allergy medication that our vet thinks might clear up his chronic ear infections. We like to run everything by our vet before we try any home remedies, but thanks for the suggestion.

  4. one of the best home remedy for dog ear infections is venegar.

  5. Some dogs have constant ear problems with ear yeast infections, ear mites, waxy ears, smelly ears, no matter what they keep coming back. Mine did but now I do regular dog ear treatments with dr dogs ear oil natural remedy that works good for dogs ear problems. Keeps the junky ears from flaring up all the time. I just give dogs ears a shot of this and it’s done. Nice his ears aren’t red and sore like they were before, and it is cheap maintenance compared to all the bills we had before, and you should see all the things we’ve tried. I have a closet shelf full of ear meds for the dog that never did the job. this does, problem dog ears no more.

  6. I learned the hard way that too much water in a dog’s ear can cause ear infections as well! That is also why I no longer bathe my dog myself, but take her to PetsMart instead!

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