Dog’s Ear Infections 101

Ear infections are a common health problem in Boxers. They are prone to ear infections because of the poor air circulation, so their ear canal traps moisture allowing yeast and bacteria to grow there.

Ear infections are typically secondary to inflammation of the external ear canals (the tube-shaped part of the ear visible under the ear flap). Inflammation of the canals creates the perfect environment to the overgrowth of normal bacteria and yeast that live in the ear. The overgrowth of these organisms causes more inflammation, swelling and increases the production of wax. The ears become very itchy and painful.

boxer disease

Canine ear infections are most often caused by:

  1. Bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa)
  2. Yeast (Malassezia pachydermatis)
  3. Ear mites (Octodetes cynotis)
  4. Growing hair
  5. Humidity (trapped water)
  6. Tumor or foreign body in the ear canal
  7. Recurrent bathing and/or swimming
  8. Improper cleaning methods

Infections may also be secondary to other health conditions such as allergies and hypothyroidism.

Clinical Signs

The subsequent clinical signs may indicate that your dog needs to have his ears examined by a veterinarian:

dog ear infections

Some dogs will cry out when touched around the ears or head; others may become aggressive owing to the extreme sensitivity or pain caused by the infection. At this point, you should take your dog to your veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

Complications

  1. Vestibular signs: If the infection spreads to the middle ear affected animals may present vestibular signs such as head tilt, lack of balance, and nystagmus. Middle ear infections can also origin paralysis of the facial nerve, leading to a slack-jawed appearance on that side of the face.
  2. Aural Hematoma: Vigorous shaking and scratching of the head and ears can cause rupture of a blood vessel in the earflap. This leads to bleeding into the tissues. The standard treatment is surgery to remove the blood clots and application of an appropriate bandage.

Prevention

In several cases, routine cleaning with a proper canine ear cleaner can help reduce the occurrence of ear infections. These products should always be administered following any grooming or water activities.

Four tips to maintain your dog free from ear infections:

  1. Check your dog’s ears frequently (discharge, odor, swelling)
  2. If your dog’s ear canal looks dirty, clean with a cotton ball dampened with an ear solution recommended by your veterinarian
  3. After baths and swimming, be sure to dry your dog’s ears
  4. Inner-ear skin is sensible, so ask your vet to show you the proper method for maintaining your dog’s ear health

Ear infections may recur due to the inability to control the original infection or treat the primary cause. Chronic anatomical changes lead to future infections. Scar tissue and permanent narrowing of the ear canals can make future infections challenging to treat.

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