The Pet Doctor

Otitis Externa In Dogs And How Your Veterinarian Can Help

If your dog shakes their head or paws at their ears, they may have otitis externa. Otitis externa, otherwise known as an external ear infection, can be painful. This condition affects certain breeds and dogs with particular health issues. 

The good news is you can easily identify this condition, and your veterinarian can treat it effectively. Keep reading to learn more about otitis externa, its symptoms, and treatment.

What Causes Otitis Externa?

Otitis externa has many causes. Many dogs get it due to an allergy. Your dog could have an environmental allergy or a reaction to foods. Often, allergies have multiple symptoms. So you may see inflamed ears along with stomach or respiratory issues.

High exposure to moisture and humidity may trigger otitis externa. If your dog loves to swim, they may be at higher risk of infections. Dog ears aren't as efficient at draining water as human ears. Their ears can also trap water when you bathe them.

Certain bacterial, yeast, or parasitic infections will also cause otitis externa. Ear mites are one common parasite that irritates the ears.

What Does Otitis Externa Look Like?

Otitis externa makes the inside of the ears appear red and inflamed. With yeast-related infections, the dog's ears may have a yellow crusty appearance accompanied by a bad smell coming from them. You can usually see the infection when you look at your dog's ear openings. The infection can spread to the exterior parts of the ear as well.

Which Dogs Get Otitis Externa?

Any dog can get otitis externa. Their ear canals have a different shape than humans, so they may trap bacteria more easily. However, dogs with long, floppy ears tend to be at higher risk, as their ears are more likely to trap moisture.

What Do Veterinarians Do to Treat Otitis Externa?

Veterinarians have several treatments available for otitis externa. But, first, they have to determine the cause. They will examine the ears and clean them. Your dog may need sedation if touching or handling the ears causes pain.

If a health condition is the cause, the veterinarian will treat that first. Other treatments depend on the condition's severity. Mild to moderate conditions may do well with topical creams or oral medications. Dogs whose ear canals are narrow or close up may need surgery to help with draining.

Ear problems and infections can be miserable for your dog. Therefore, if you suspect your dog has a severe infection, a veterinarian at an animal hospital can help. Do not attempt home remedies, as they can worsen the condition. Also, ensure you dry your dog's ears after swimming and bathing.

Contact a local animal hospital, such as Marquette Animal Hospital, to learn more.