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Otitis in your dogs - kenilworth vet

If your dog is constantly shaking his head or scratching at his ears there is a good chance, he is suffering from an ear infection. Ear infections are common in all breeds (simply because of the anatomy of the ear itself) but certain breeds can be particularly susceptible to them and they can be a time consuming and costly problem to treat.

OTITIS EXTERNA – is the medical term for inflammation of the ear canal.

Why does it occur?

Ear infections usually occur because of a combination of factors that come together to create the perfect environment for infection to take hold.


The design of the dog’s ear canal lends itself to problems. Unlike humans, that only have a very short, horizontal ear canal, dog’s have a long vertical canal that ends in a right-angle bend leading to the horizontal canal. Like the bend in a sink pipe this is a great place for debris and moisture to sit. Add to this a drooping ear flap (Beagles, Bassets, Retrievers) and you have the perfect moist, warm environment for yeasts and bacteria to grow.


Whether it is the sea, river or your pool, some dogs just love the water and it is impossible to keep them out of it. But frequent swimming can be a problem, particularly to those dogs that are predisposed to ear trouble.  Even visits to the forest or wooded areas during summer when pollens and grass seeds are around can be an issue.            


What appears to be a simple ear infection can be the first or only sign of an underlying allergic skin condition.


The most common FB   to find down a dog’s ear is a grass seed. As you can imagine this  causes intense irritation, scratching, inflammation and eventually can lead to a secondary infection.

5.PARASITES – Otodectes ear mites

Ear mites are not seen as commonly in the dog as in the cat, but they do occur. When your vet examines your dog’s ear with an otoscope, he /she may see evidence of mites. A smelly discoloured discharge is often present in the ear canal.  A swab from the ear can be taken and examined under the microscope for further diagnosis. Although ear mites can cause the ears to be

  1. Miscellaneous:

There are of course other causes of ear trouble such as tumours etc, but these are not seen as frequently.


The most common signs of ear infection are:

  1. i) Scratching, rubbing or pawing at the ear
  1. ii) Head shaking

iii) Smelly discharge

  1. iv) Red inflamed ear canal/ flap
  1. v) Damage to the ear flap from trauma caused by shaking/scratching
  1. vi) Aural haematoma – blood vessel ruptures inside the ear flap causing it to swell

vii) Behavioural changes- some dogs can become aggressive due the discomfort and pain


Organise a trip to the veterinarian.  Please don’t try home remedies, these will only aggravate the problem and you could run the risk of being bitten if your dog is in a lot of pain.


Your Vet will take a full history and if possible, try to examine your dog’s ear in the consulting room. 

*Ear infections can be extremely painful, and your dog may need to be sedated for a full examination to be performed.

Swabs will be taken from the ear, stained and examined under the microscope so that your vet can determine whether our dog has a yeast, bacterial or mite infection.

Depending on the extent of the problem your vet may wish to admit your dog and do a thorough examination and ear clean under sedation or general anaesthetic. Once the ear has been examined, flushed, and dried thoroughly it can be treated.

Your vet will prescribe ear drops or ointment for you to administer at home. Your dog may need systemic antibiotics as well as anti-inflammatories or pain killers.

Treating your dogs’ ears at home can be difficult so don’t be shy to ask your vet for help or a demonstration!


Ear infections can be stubborn and recurring and can take a long time to thoroughly resolve.

If your vet asks you to revisit for a check PLEASE make sure you keep our appointment! Your dog may seem better but in order to be certain, the ear needs to be examined properly.

Many chronic ear conditions could have been avoided if the owners had followed the vet’s advice!


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