How do you tell if your dog has an inner ear infection? A Step-by-Step Guide

Are some dogs more susceptible to inner ear infection?

Dogs with long, heavy ears seem to be predisposed to chronic ear infections that can ultimately lead to otitis interna. Spaniel breeds, such as the Cocker Spaniel, and hound breeds, such as the Bloodhound and Basset Hound, are the most commonly affected breeds. Regardless of breed, any dog with a chronic ear infection that is difficult to control may develop otitis interna if the eardrum (tympanic membrane) is damaged, as a damaged ear drum allows bacteria to migrate down into the inner ear.

Excessively vigorous cleaning of an infected external ear canal can sometimes cause otitis interna. Some ear cleansers are irritating to the middle and inner ear and can cause signs of otitis interna if the eardrum is damaged and allows some of the solution to penetrate too deeply.

My dog has just been diagnosed with an inner ear infection. What is this?

Inflammation of the inner ear is called otitis interna, and it is most often caused by an infection. The infectious agent is most commonly bacterial, although fungus (otherwise known as yeast) can also be implicated in an inner ear infection.

If your dog has ear mites in the external ear canal, this can ultimately cause a problem in the inner ear and pose a greater risk for a bacterial infection. Similarly, inner ear infections may develop if disease exists in one ear canal or when a benign polyp is growing from the middle ear. A foreign object, such as grass seed, may also set the stage for bacterial infection in the inner ear.

Treatment of Middle and Inner Ear Infections in Dogs

Early detection of a middle or inner ear infection is the best way to control the infection. Your veterinarian will treat the ear infection to prevent the infection from causing long-term effects such as deafness.

Treatment will involve thoroughly cleaning the affected ear and then flushing the affected ear with a saline solution. Some veterinarians may clean and flush both ears, even if only one ear is affected. In extreme cases, your dog may need to be anesthetized to thoroughly clean the ear, especially if they are in a lot of pain. This allows the tympanic membrane to be visualised.

An antibiotic, antiparasitic or antifungal medication will usually be prescribed. In some cases a steroid may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation within the ear. Always give the prescribed medications as directed and any questions regarding the medication and possible side effects should be directed to your veterinarian.

A myringotomy should be performed for deeper ear infections and swabs should be taken before flushing.

Worried about the cost of Middle And Inner Ear Infections treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Does your dog have an ear infection – Symptoms of dog ear infection – Quick Guide for beginners