Hello, can you ear me?

ear infections and pet first aid

It’s that time of year, Max is tilting his head, shaking constantly and yelps when he scratches his ear, which seems to be constantly.  

Ear infections always seem to have a place in the top 10 most common medical issues with dogs, in fact ear infections debuted at number 1 back in 2011, according to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM. If they are this common then there has to be some way or ways to prevent them correct?

First let’s discuss what causes these nasty nuances, then how to recognize them. We will round out the post with great natural ways on how to prevent them so Max avoids the suffering and your wallet avoids the pain, not to mention your schedule to get him to the vet every few weeks this summer.

Ear infections:

Ear infections are irritations and inflammations of the ear canal caused most often by either bacteria or fungus. There is a 3rd type of ear irritant, ear mites, which can overgrow in your pets ears as well, these passionate parasites most often cause issues in our kitty companions. The most common type of ear infection is bacterial and there are two ways your pooch can get unwanted friends living in their ears. The first is through bacterial nemeses they pick up from swimming in the pond behind the neighbor’s house or from anywhere outside of their body that decide to set up camp in your dog’s canal. These are abnormal hitchhikers that hitched a ride from an outside source. The second type of bacterial ear infections come from your pals own normal bacteria which for various reasons, like excessively dirty ears, stress, poor diet or compromised immune system can overgrow and cause an infection, usually from naturally occurring staph bacteria. Fungal infections like the #2 type of bacterial infection, typically come from the dog’s own collection of fungus, the most common being yeast. Like with bacteria, the yeast overtakes the ear and sets up shop wreaking havoc.

Recognizing and ridding of ear infections:

If you notice your pet shaking their head excessively, tilting it and/or constantly scratching at one or both ears, it’s time to take a hard look, smell and feel of the ear. Infections can feel warm to the touch, be swollen, red, oozy, smelly, sensitive to the touch and scraped up from constant scratching. If this is your first bought with ear problems you should get your pet to the vet. Your vet will diagnose what type of infection and the best course of action. Remember, if bacterial and treated with meds, continue the meds until the full course, just because the ear looks clean, doesn’t mean the bacteria are being kept at bay.

Preventing them in the first place:

If you have a Golden or a Cocker Spaniel, you might have felt that you could have written this blog. These two breeds top out the charts for ear issues, one due to length, the other due to their propensity to swim and get water trapped in their ears. Other friends that can be found on this list are any pups with pendulous ears (hang long and swing to and fro), like Basset Hounds, Beagles, Great Danes, and Cavalier King Charles. The swimmers make up the next batch, Labs, Goldens, and any water loving retriever. The last group of friends that host bacteria in their ears are those with inner ear hair, Poodles, Schnauzers and Bichon Frise. The best course of action for anyone sharing their life with a pet with ear issues is to check them daily and keep them clean and dry always.

For our pets that aren’t as commonly afflicted by ear infections here are some steps you can take to help ensure ear issues do not arise:

  • Check your pets ears regularly
  • Clean regularly with cotton square or cotton ball using
    • Witch hazel
    • Organic apple cider diluted with equal parts water
    • Green Tea (after it has been cooled)
    • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Maintain a proper diet
  • Decrease stress

Cleaning your pet’s ears shouldn’t be a difficult task but may be for some especially if their pets are sensitive or in pain from an ear infection. A good tip is practice cleaning their ears before an infection sets in, this will help prevent one anyway and make it positive! Lots of praise and treats.  

So go take Max swimming this summer but just as you would dry his body before coming into the house, give his ears a good wipe as well.

Want more education about your pet's health, get certified now by taking our online course in pet first aid and pet cpr HERE!

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