Ear infections in dogs are quite a common problem and numerous causes can contribute to them. Luckily, in most cases they are easily treatable! In this article we’ll talk about dog ear infection symptoms, the causes of ear infections in Doodles, and discuss Doodle ear infection prevention and treatment.
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Dog Ear Infection Symptoms
Some dogs may go without any symptoms at all. However, usually at least some of them are present. You might be wondering, “how do I know if my dog has an ear infection?” Here’s how:
Most Common Dog Ear Infection Symptoms
- Dog shaking his head or head tilting
- Odor coming from ears
- Constant scratching of the ear, itchiness
- Swelling, or ear flaps filling with fluid (hematomas)
- Redness in the ear
- Discharge inside the ear (yellow, brown, black, or bloody)
- Crusty or irritated ears
- Pain and soreness
Here’s a dog ear infection picture to help you recognize the symptoms.
Causes of Ear Infections in Doodles
There can be many causes that contribute to a dog ear infection. Most commonly, they are caused by moisture, allergies, bacteria, hormonal imbalances, yeast, inner-ear hair growth, ear mites, shape of the ears, swimming, and injury or foreign bodies.
Doodles with big, droopy ears are more prone to developing ear infections. As the ears droop down, the airflow is blocked. Thus, the ears can’t properly dry out. Because of the excess moisture, bacteria and yeast may start to grow. (Source)
Moreover, hair growth inside the ears can block the airflow even further. It can also trap dirt and ear wax, which makes it even easier for the bacteria to spread.
As Poodles naturally have inner-ear hair, make sure to check your Doodle’s ears regularly.
There may also be some underlying root causes such as diet, lifestyle, excessive ear cleaning, and weakened immune system.
Very commonly, food allergies are to blame for chronic ear infections. Specifically, foods that are high in non-hydrolyzed protein such as chicken, beef, lamb, and wheat cause the most problems. Be sure to check out this article to see if your Doodle is exhibiting any other symptoms of a food allergy and to learn what you can do about it.
Doodle Ear Infection Prevention
Because the inner-ear hair can play a big role in trapping the bacteria and dirt, one great way to reduce the risk of an ear infection is to manage it.
Ear Hair Plucking
Some groomers and owners choose to pluck their Doodles’ ear hairs. However, over time it has become a controversial practice.
As Gordon’s Grooming puts it:
“First, ripping this hair out of the ear HURTS the dog. Most will fight, wiggle and try to get the person pulling the hair to stop. Some will scream and try to bite.”
They then go on to say:
“Second, since we’ve stopped plucking ears, the salon hasn’t received a single phone call telling us that their dog got an ear infection right after grooming so we must have ‘got water in their ears.’ This is because those ear infections were never caused by getting water into a dog’s ears, but from yanking the hair out of the ear canal.”
There is some truth to that statement. It’s been found that ripping the hair out can cause microscopic tears in the ear canal. If bacteria are present, it’s possible for a dog ear infection to occur in an injured ear. (Source)
This is why veterinarians no longer recommend plucking the ear hairs from every dog who has them. Plucking should be done on a case-by-case basis and should be only be attempted as a treatment option for dogs who are more prone to ear infections.
Trimming the Ear Hairs
If you don’t feel comfortable with ear hair plucking, you can opt to maintain them by scissor trimming. This can be very effective in preventing dog ear infections, along with routine cleaning.
You can do this on your own, or your Doodle’s groomer can trim them at each visit.
Here’s a good video demonstrating ear hair trimming (starting at about the 3:00 mark):
Our Doodle Doods DIY Dog Grooming Blueprint has a dedicated section for ear grooming, so be sure to check it out!
Other Ear Care Tips
- Dry your Doodle’s ears after each bath and swim – especially if your dog swims often! Because moisture is the perfect growing environment for bacteria and yeast, keeping those ears clean and dry is crucial.
- You should also regularly clean your dog’s ears. Ask your vet for recommendations on what to buy, or use natural alternatives (more on that later in this article).
NEVER use a cotton swap to clean your Doodle’s ears!
Dog Ear Infection Treatments
Do I Need to Go to the Vet for an Ear Infection?
In short, yes. Go to the vet if your dog has an ear infection so he can be treated right away and to minimize risk of further health complications.
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How Can I Treat My Dog’s Ear Infection at Home?
Of course, there are times when going to the veterinarian is not possible. Now, the important question is, how can I treat my dog’s ear infection without going to the vet?
If possible, at least call your vet and send them photos of your Doodle’s ears. List all the symptoms and try to remember when they appeared. This will help your vet determine the severity of the infection, and the next steps.
Nevertheless, if your dog experiences any of the more serious symptoms like issues with balance or nausea, visit your vet immediately!
What Can I Give My Dog for an Ear Infection? – Top Dog Ear Cleaner Products
In case of a minor infection, you might be able to buy dog ear infection treatment over the counter. Your vet will also probably recommend some ear cleaning solutions and ear drops.
Here are some dog ear cleaner products that are highly-rated:
EcoEars | Natural Dog Ear Cleaner – Infection Formula For Itch, Head Shaking, Discharge & Smell
Pet MD – Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes – Otic Cleanser for Dogs
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
Zymox Advanced Formula Otic Plus Enzymatic Ear Solution for Dogs with 1% Hydrocortisone
ZYMOX Pet King Brand Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone
However, for more serious conditions like the middle and inner ear infections, you’re probably going to need prescription medications. Your veterinarian should have to do the necessary tests to determine the underlying cause of the infection. They might prescribe a dog ear infection medicine like antibiotics for bacterial infections. Or an anti-fungal medication for yeast infections. (Source)
Meanwhile, no matter what treatment or medication you provide for your dog, always make sure to follow the exact recommendations from your vet. This includes finishing the whole treatment to avoid the infections coming back or becoming more resistant.
How to Treat Dog Ear Infection Naturally
If you’re wondering about natural alternatives, here are a few ways how to treat dog ear infection naturally. But we strongly advise that you discuss these remedies with your veterinarian first.
For example, witch hazel for dog ear infection can be a helpful cleaning solution. In addition, it can help decrease inflammation and pain, and dry out the ears. But if your Doodle’s ears are red or have any sores and cuts, do not use it. Because of the alcohol in witch hazel, it will cause even more pain.
Some other natural remedies include green tea, chamomile tea, or plain yogurt that you can gently place in your doodle’s ear canal with a sponge or a syringe. Chamomile has a relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect, whereas yogurt can add more good bacteria in case of yeast infections.
For recipes, dosing, and application instructions of these dog ear infection home remedies and more, check out this post at Dogs Naturally Magazine.
Will a Dog Ear Infection Go Away on Its Own?
Not really. You have to at least clean your dog’s ears with a dog ear cleaning solution. Also, trim away their inner-ear hair, so the bacteria can’t hold on to it. However, this might not be enough.
When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet for an Ear Infection?
In case your Doodle shows any of the ear infection symptoms, we urge you to visit your vet as soon as possible, or at least call them!
An untreated dog ear infection can spread and damage their health even more. Your vet can do a visual examination and an easy swab test and therefore provide you with an appropriate treatment plan.
Please don’t forget that dog ear infection can be very painful. You wouldn’t want your Doodle to be in pain, would you?
What Happens to a Dog With an Untreated Ear Infection?
Untreated ear infection can develop into more serious health issues. Usually, the most common type of dog ear infection is otitis externa. This affects the external parts of your Doodle’s ear – the parts that you can see. Luckily, this type of infection is fairly easy to diagnose and treat.
On the other hand, if otitis externa has been left untreated, or if it’s a chronic issue, it can develop into otitis media. This is a middle ear infection which occurs lower into the ear canal. Consequently, untreated otitis media may develop into otitis interna. This affects the inner ear and is a very serious condition. (Source)
Keep in mind that the further your Doodle’s ear infection develops, the more harm and discomfort it will cause. In some cases, surgery might be necessary to treat the infection.
Symptoms of Untreated Ear Infections
- Walking in circles
- Issues with balance and coordination
- Narrowing of the ear canal
- Unusual eye movements
- Anorexia, nausea and vomiting
- Loss of hearing
In conclusion, a dog ear infection can develop into a serious health concern if left untreated. If you notice any of the symptoms, contact your vet to find the best solution for your Doodle.
The information on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified animal health provider with any questions you may have.