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Important Facts You Need To Know About Chronic Ear Infections In Dogs

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

How Do They Start and Why Do They Reoccur?

A dog’s chronic ear infection usually results from an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the external, middle, or inner ear.  When the ear becomes inflamed it triggers the production of normal bacteria and yeast resulting in an overgrowth that the body is unable to control. The result is an infection that spreads in this unhealthy environment.

What to Look For

The resulting infection causes swelling and an increased production of earwax. The ears become very itchy and painful. If you see your dog rubbing his head on the carpet you best take heed to check his ears to see if signs are present for an infection. Your pet may shake his head, scratch his ears, or rub against the furniture. If scratching persists you may see wounds on the skin around their face, neck and ears. Don’t delay in getting your pet to the vet for treatment.

Why Do Ear Infections Keep Reoccurring?

Reoccurring ear infections are usually secondary to an underlying condition that allows for an unhealthy ear environment. There are several underlying conditions that may be the primary reasons for the returning ear infection. These conditions include:

  • Allergies (external or food)
  • Ear mites
  • Foreign bodies (bugs, sticks, worms, etc.)
  • Skin disorders (seborrhea, psoriasis)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Tumors or polyps in the ear
    The ear infection reoccurs because the original infection or the underlying condition has not been properly addressed or treated. It may also be due to scar tissue and a permanent narrowing of the ear canal, which makes it a little harder to treat each time.

Treatment & What to Expect

Visit your vet at the first sign of ear problems

During a physical examination your vet will look into the ear for the presence of inflammation, redness, discharge, growths, or any other findings that may indicate an infection. Examination of a sample from the ear under a microscope will determine whether the cause is bacterial, yeast or mites. Once determined, then a suitable antibiotic can be prescribed to treat the condition.

Mites are easy to treat with topical applications in the ear and/or middle of shoulder blades. Most yeast and bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, regular cleaning with topical medications, or steroids if needed to reduce the inflammation. If it is determined that an underlying condition is the cause then the condition will need to be treated as well. In rare circumstances, surgery may be needed to allow drainage or to repair a deformed ear canal.

How Can You Prevent Ear Infection?

Prevention is the key to most conditions and you can do this by merely maintaining a healthy ear environment with regular cleaning and a healthy diet.  It has been my experience for more than 40 years that dogs on the BARF diet, a healthy raw meat diet experience many less ear infections.  In fact, may clients come to us with pets who have severe ear problems and they are amazed at how things clear up once on the BARF Diet.

Here’s a story from a happy BARF client:

“Roscoe started displaying symptoms around October/November \’12 when his ear discharge became noticeable and then his nose started to scab and crust over before turning raw. And the area near his eyes had scabs. I decided to try BARF. 8 months later, he\’s the healthiest dog I can ask for and loves his BARF Diet patties. Quite a transformation from the sick dog he was. I try to tell other dog owners about the benefits I experienced all the time, so their pets can be just as healthy as Roscoe.” – Kirill Galperin

Remember, left untreated, severe ear infections can lead to eardrum rupture, middle ear and inner ear infections. The deep infections can lead to deafness and neurologic signs.  Take action at the first sign of ear problems in your pets.


ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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2 Comments  comments 

2 Responses

  1. Ann

    I used to use Coconut oil to clean my rescued Golden’s ears but it made his coat below his ears look greasy. So I started using EcoEars and so far I’ve been able to prevent any ear infections which I heard are a problem with this breed. I also give him a bath about once a month because he’s an indoor dog and goes everywhere in my car. I’ve been using EcoEars instead of alcohol to prevent swimmer’s ears, and so far so good.

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