Ear infections

Ear infections are one of the most common conditions we see in dogs. Signs of an ear infection may include: 

Shaking head

Scratching ears

Holding one ear or head at an unusual angle

Strong odor

Redness and swelling of ear 

If you notice any of these symptoms your pet may be in need of relief. Diagnosing ear infections involves a physical examination, cytology of the debris in the ears, and in some cases a culture. 

A veterinarian cannot dispense medication without determining what is causing the infection and what is growing inside the ear. Some common types of organisms that may be in the ears include, yeast, bacteria, and mites. If you treat and ear incorrectly you can make the infection much worse or in some cases resistant to medications.

Your pets doctor will most likely swab each ear canal and look under a microscope to see what is overgrown. Some types of bacteria are resistant to common medications, so they may culture it to find out what medications it is sensitive to. 

You may also discuss why your dog has gotten an ear infection in the first place. Some of the more common causes include: 

Food allergy

Inhalant allergy

Water in ears

Hormonal abnormalities

Foreign objects


Overgrowth of hair in the canal

Congenital skin diseases 

A good way to help prevent future ear infections, is to clean the ears regularly with a dog specific ear flush that includes a drying agent. Preferably purchase through your veterinarian to insure quality. It is recommended for maintenance, to clean the ears out twice a week. 

To remove debris, apply an ear cleaner directly into your dog's ear canal. Massage the base of the ear for 20-30 seconds to soften and bring the debris to the surface. Wipe out the loose debris and excess fluid with a cotton ball. Your dog's ear is L-shaped, so you can safely, gently put your finger in the canal to remove loosened debris with the cotton ball. Repeat this procedure until there is no more debris. Let your dog shake his head to remove any excess fluid. When you are through, wipe the dog's ear flap and area below the ear.

Cotton applicator swabs can be used to clean the inside of the ear flap and the part of the ear canal you can see. They should NOT be used farther down in the ear canal as you may injure the canal or pack debris in. Always follow your veterinarian's recommendations.