It is estimated that 1 in 5 dogs suffer from ear problems.
Dogs rely heavily on their ears to cope with their environment. They have a greater hearing range than people do and can detect sound as low as 16 Hz frequency to as high as 100,000 Hz (people hear 20 to 20,000 Hz ). Their ears have a great degree of flexibility that allows them to funnel sounds and easily locate the direction of the sound. They can hear sounds much sooner and at much greater distances than people do. Dogs with cone ears naturally hear better than those with floppy ears.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that 1 in 5 dogs suffer from ear problems with it being one of the most common causes for veterinary visits. Without early management, the ear inflammation can lead to a narrowing of the ear canal, increase in canal temperature, moisture and exudate, and ultimately irreversible damage. For this reason, effective treatment and long-term management is required for successful resolution.
Common signs of ear disease:
- Head shaking
- Ear scratching
- Ear discharge
- Thickening of the ear canal
Risk factors for ear disease:
- Narrow ear canal
- High hair density
- Floppy ears
- Excessive ear cleaning
- Environmental conditions such as humidity
- Ear tumours
These risk factors lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast that lead to infection.
Common causes of ear disease:
- Parasites e.g. mites in young puppies
- Foreign bodies
- Skin disease
- Endocrine disease such as Thyroid disease
- Genetics - poor ear conformation
- Ear mass
- Chronic dampness from regular swimming
Treatment of ear disease involves:
- Cleaning of the ears
- Treatment of the infection with an antibiotic or antifungal
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Allergy tests
- Blood tests
Tips to help keep the ears clean once you have approval from your veterinarian and if your pet allows:
- Using a veterinary approved ear cleaning solution, gently squeeze the solution into the ear canal so that you can see the fluid well up within the ear canal, massage the ear canal so you can hear a squelching noise of the fluid, massage upwards as if to push the fluid out. Follow the instructions carefully
- Massage the ear from the based upwards and out
- Wipe any discharge and solution with sterile cotton balls
If your pet is showing early signs of ear disease, seek veterinary attention.