Have a Dog Breed with Floppy Ears? Watch Out for Ear Infections

While any dog breed can get an ear infection, breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, and Basset Hounds are at risk. These breeds have very floppy ears that make it easier for moisture to get trapped in the canal and encourage bacterial growth.

Take a moment to learn about the different types of ear infections your dog could get, how to identify the symptoms, and how to treat the issue.

What Types of Ear Infections Can Your Dog Get?

Inflammation of the ear canal lining is called otitis externa; this is a very common ear infection and usually milder than otitis media and otitis interna. Otitis media and Otitis interna are infections of the middle and inner ear canal respectively. These infections are more serious and can cause deafness in your pup. These types of infections arise if a milder infection, like otitis externa, is not taken care of soon enough. So, it's important to know the symptoms of an ear infection so that your dog can get help right away.

What Are Some of the Symptoms of Ear Infections?

It's a good idea to check your dog's ears periodically for discharge, scabs, or wax buildup. Other symptoms of ear infections include:

  • An odor from their ears
  • Swelling around their ear canal
  • Head shaking or intense ear scratching
  • Loss of balance

What Causes Ear Infections?

While excess moisture can cause bacteria and yeast to thrive, there are other causes of ear infections. For instance, some dogs are naturally prone to these infections if they have autoimmune or endocrine disorders. Ear mites can also cause ear infections; if your dog has mites, he or she may aggressively scratch and cut his or her ears. If these cuts don't heal, they can be a prime spot for bacteria.

Some homeowners may inadvertently cause ear infections by overcleaning their dog's ears. It's important to just wipe your pup's ears clean; Q-tips and other objects shouldn't be stuck inside the canal to remove wax. Sticking a Q-tip inside a dog's ear can actually force debris further into the ear canal and increase the risk of infection.

How Can You Treat the Problem?

Your veterinarian can assess your dog's ear health at his or her regular check-ups. If you notice symptoms of an ear infection, take your dog to an animal hospital for treatment. If the infection is mild, then the veterinarian can use a medicated cleanser at the hospital and prescribe antibiotics and/or topical medication for you to give your dog at home.

If your dog's ear infection was caused by ear mites, then the hospital may prescribe an anti-parasitic medication so that your dog stops scratching open ear wounds. If your dog keeps having ear infections, he or she could need surgery to repair the ear canal.