If you answered yes to any of the above questions, chances are good that your pet is suffering from an ear infection. Even something as simple as your pet constantly shaking its head or scratching its ears may be indicators of an ear infection.
Ear infections are a commonly diagnosed ailments for dogs. Many pet owners are unaware of these ear infections since pets can show no clinical signs trouble until the ear problems are quite severe.
Symptoms which can indicate an ear problem may include:
- abnormal discharge or wax accumulation,
- a foul odor,
- scratching at ears,
- head shaking,
- swelling and/or tenderness of the ear pinna (ear flap),
- inflammation of the ear canal or pinna,
- scabs or crusts.
- pet having a head tilt or possibly even hearing loss (in severe cases)
Infections of the external ear canal tend to be more common in dogs with floppy ears, like the Beagle, Golden Retriever, and Cocker Spaniel, but can also occur in breeds with stand-up ears as well. Bacteria and yeast like to grow in a moist, dark, and closed environment. Water from swimming, baths or rain can predispose a pet to ear infections. Parasites, foreign bodies, excessive hair and/or ear wax are also common factors for causing these infections. Some pets are simply more susceptible to ear infections as a result of general skin allergies.
Dogs and cats can suddenly develop a soft swelling on the ear. This is a collection of serum and blood, from broken blood vessels just under the skin of the pinna, and is referred to as an aural hematoma. This can be the result of excessive shaking of the head.
As previously mentioned, parasites (ear mites) can be a source of ear discomfort. These parasites cause a great deal of irritation to any pet and will usually cause the pet to vigorously shake its head and scratch its ears. An abundance of dark-colored discharge in the ear canal is a typical finding of the ear canal that is infected with ear mites. This discharge is the result of mites feeding off the ear tissue. The mites themselves are tiny, mobile white specks.
Examination of the ear canals and tympanic membranes can be extremely difficult for the veterinarian when the patient is suffering from some forms of ear disease. Simply inserting the otoscope into a painful ear of a patient can cause discomfort. Sedation may be recommended to ensure a thorough examination.
A pet suspected of having an ear infection should be examined by a veterinarian without delay. Remember, a healthy ear is a clean ear and a clean ear is usually a healthy one.