Will dog ear infections go away on their own? Here’s the Answer

How to Treat a Dog Ear Infection

“Typically, when it gets to the point of infection, you need prescription medication,” Grant says. Its best to see your veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms because ear infections wont go away on their own.

Your veterinarian will take a swab of the ear discharge and look at it under a microscope to see if its mites, yeast, or bacteria, and then prescribe the appropriate medication. Treatments include antibiotics, antifungals and anti-mite medications that are usually applied to the skin. But if the infection has advanced to the inner ear, your veterinarian may recommend oral medications.

Will dog ear infections go away on their own?

Credit: Capuski / Getty

Treatment usually lasts two weeks, but your pooch should have some relief from symptoms within a few days, Grant says. “If its a one-off ear infection, we wont do anything else. But if your dog gets multiple ear infections, then well talk about allergy testing so we can come up with a better long-term plan for the pet. That might mean changing up foods or long-term medication to address canine allergies.”

Keeping your dogs ears clean and dry is the most important thing you can do at home to prevent ear infections. Grant recommends cleaning your dogs ears at least once a month. You can purchase a dog ear wash at the store or mix half water and half hydrogen peroxide to make your own cleaning solution at home. Think itll be impossible to get your dog to sit still? These vet-approved tips will make the ear-cleaning process easier.

But the ultimate way to prevent ear infections that reoccur, says Grant, is to discover and treat the underlying cause, which is most often allergies to proteins in food or to things like dust mites or seasonal allergens. Treating what triggers your dogs ear infections provides a long-term solution that leads to a happier, healthier life.

Signs of ear infection in dogs

Ear infections can be very painful and dogs can’t tell us when they are suffering. It’s up to pet owners to be aware of the signs of an ear infection. These include:

  • Head shaking, head tilting, pawing, or scratching at the ear
  • Redness and swelling in ear canals
  • Pulling away or yelping when ears are touched
  • Discharge in the ears that can be colored yellow, green, brown, or black
  • Odor (yeast infection in dogs ears will give off a sweet or musty smell)
  • Failure to respond when called (this could indicate hearing loss)
  • “The most common sign of an ear infection in a dog is shaking of the head,” says Jamie Whittenburg, DVM, the director of Kingsgate Animal Hospital in Texas and a veterinarian at seniortailwaggers.com. “Many dogs will also scratch at their ears with their paws or rub the ears on the floor.”

    Common causes of ear infections are an unhealthy buildup of bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both in a dog’s ear canal. There are many contributing factors to dog ear infections such as:

  • Allergies
  • Moisture in the ear canal (sometimes due to bathing or swimming)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Foreign bodies (such as foxtails and grass awns)
  • Injury to the ear canal
  • Excessively narrow ear canals due to the physical traits of some breeds
  • Ear mites are commonly thought to contribute to dog ear infection and while this may be true for cats and sometimes pup’s ears, it is unusual for adult dogs. “As a practicing veterinarian of 17 years, I have never seen ear mites in a dog,” says Dr. Whittenburg, who says she sees five to six dogs with ear infections each week.

    What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?

    “Ear infections in dogs develop when the skin surface becomes unhealthy,” says Emily Pashaian-Grant, DVM, medical director of VCA Sylvania Vet Animal Hospital. “So the best way to prevent ear infections is to find the root cause of the condition. That way you can avoid or treat whatever is triggering the problem.”

    Like people, its normal for dogs to have a collection of microorganisms that live on the surface of their skin (called a microbiome). Most of the time, these germs are harmless. But, Grant says, if the normal skin barrier is disrupted in some way and becomes irritated and inflamed, it gives germs the chance to grow unchecked. “Ear infections are the result of an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, or a combination of both,” she explains.

    Ear mites are microscopic bugs that can infest your dogs ears. They spread from animal-to-animal or your pup can pick them up from simply lying down outdoors. They dont bite, but their presence irritates the skin in your dogs ears and makes them itch like crazy. Because they inflame the skin, ear mites in dogs can lead to ear infections.

    Bacteria and yeast flourish in moist, dark areas, Grant says. So dogs that have floppy ears (think: hounds and spaniels) are more likely to develop ear infections. Air can easily get into upright ears and keep them dry. But ears that flap down trap moisture, which encourages germs to overgrow. Also, puppies in a litter can get ear infections from licking and pulling on each others ears, explains Grant.

    Allergies are usually the main culprit in recurring ear infections. If your dog has multiple ear infections, its time to consider allergy testing, Grant says. According to the AKC, 80% of dogs with food allergies and 50% of dogs with environmental allergies develop ear infections.

    Ear infections are painful for pups. So youll likely see your dog scratching at his ears or shaking his head. Other symptoms include red, irritated skin inside the ears and brown, yellow, or green discharge. Ear infections can also be super stinky.

    Dog Yeast Ear Infections: Great OTC Home Remedy

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