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Unraveling the Mystery: What’s Really Causing Your Dog’s Ear Troubles?

Your fur baby can experience various ear problems, and the causes can be a lot of things. In this blog we’ll help you navigate through your pooch’s ear concerns. According to the American Kennel Club, an estimated 20 percent of our canine friends have some form of ear disease, which may affect one or both ears. 

Here are some of the common causes of ear problems in your canine companion::

Ear Infections

Bacterial or yeast infections can occur in a pooch’s ears. This is often due to moisture, allergies, or underlying skin conditions. The most common type of ear infection is called the otitis externa, which is the inflammation that affects the external portion of the ear canal. The other two types of ear infection are called otitis interna and otitis media, which refer to infection of the inner ear canal and middle ear canal, respectively. Of these three ear canal infections, otitis media can be the most serious because it can result in deafness, facial paralysis, and other vestibular signs. 

Ear Mites

Tiny parasites known as ear mites can infest  your fur baby’s ears! This can  cause irritation and inflammation. Ear mites are highly contagious, which is why the most common cause of ear mites infestation is by being around other anime that are also infested with these parasites. According to PetMD, ear mites can cause an intense itch. The most common symptoms include scratching and rubbing at the ears, frequent shaking of the head, dark discharge from your pup’s ears, and hair loss, skin lesions, and secondary skin infections which develop around the ears, head and neck from all the scratching 

Allergies

Your canine companion can be allergic to certain foods, environmental factors, or substances, leading to ear inflammation and discomfort. According to VCA Hospitals, the most common food allergens in canines are proteins from dairy, beef, poultry, soy, and wheat gluten. Common signs of an allergic reaction are frequent itching of skin, paws, and ears, licking, hair loss, and rashes. Other pups may also experience vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, common environmental allergens are pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and even grass. 

Foreign Bodies

According to the Calder Vets, the most common foreign object that can cause ear problems to your canine buddy are grass seeds. Objects like grass seeds or debris can enter  your fur baby’s ear canal, causing irritation and potential infection. Aside from causing discomfort to your pup, if these foreign bodies are stuck for a long period of time, it can eventually develop into an infection! That is why aural inspection is very important for your pup’s overall health. 

 

 

Genetics

Certain breeds with cute floppy ears, such as Cocker Spaniels or Basset Hounds, may be more prone to ear problems due to reduced air circulation in the ear canal. Pooches known for heavy skin folds, like shar-peis and bulldogs, often have very narrow ear canals. This means that small amounts of debris can easily clog their ear canals and eventually cause discomfort. 

Excessive Moisture

Do you enjoy swimming with your fur baby? Did you know that canines that swim frequently and have long, floppy ears may easily trap moisture in their ear canals, creating an environment conducive to infections, eventually developing swimmer’s ear or otitis externa. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal and can be exacerbated by trapped moisture.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal changes can contribute to skin conditions that affect the ears. Hormonal influences on the skin can affect the balance of oils, the immune response, and the overall health of the skin. Hormonal changes that compromise the immune system or alter the skin’s natural defenses may predispose canines to secondary infections. Bacterial or fungal infections can affect the ears, leading to symptoms like redness, swelling, and discharge.

Autoimmune Diseases

Some autoimmune disorders can manifest in the ears, leading to chronic inflammation. While autoimmune diseases affecting the ears specifically are relatively uncommon, there are autoimmune conditions that can involve the ear tissues, such as Pemphigus Complex, Immune-Mediated Otitis Externa, and more. 

 

 

Trauma

The most common cause of ear injuries in dogs is trauma. This can be caused by the dog themselves, such as scratching or shaking their head, or by external factors like getting stuck in bushes or branches. 

Poor Hygiene

Lack of regular ear cleaning can lead to the buildup of wax and debris, increasing the risk of infections. An everyday inspection of your fur baby’s ears is highly recommended. To clean your furry best friend’s ears you should gently tilt their head downward with one hand. Squirt a gentle cleanser recommended by your veterinarian into your pooch’s ear, filling the canal. Lastly, hold the ear closed, give it a nice massage, really squishing the cleanser around in there. However, if you are not confident in doing this personally, you can always ask your professional groomer or your veterinarian. 

 

If you suspect your dog has ear problems, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They can examine your dog’s ears, perform necessary tests, and recommend the best course of action based on the specific condition. Regular ear cleaning and preventive measures, such as keeping the ears dry, can help reduce the risk of ear problems in dogs.

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