Why Does My Dog Keep Getting Ear Infections? Our Vet Explains

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vet dog keep getting ear infections

Your dog’s ears are more than just adorable accessories that perk up at the sound of a treat bag. They’re also one of the most sensitive areas prone to infection. In fact, according to Pet WebMD, 20% of dogs have some form of ear disease.

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The question, “Why does my dog keep getting ear infections?” plagues many dog owners. It’s an issue that can cause your beloved pet significant discomfort and distress. Furthermore, recurring ear infections can lead to more serious health problems such as hearing loss, making it a problem that warrants immediate attention.

Understanding why your furry friend is suffering from repetitive ear infections is the first step towards providing them with relief. Ear infections in dogs can stem from a variety of causes, ranging from allergies and hormonal imbalances to excessive moisture or foreign bodies that get into the ear. Knowing the root cause can help you prevent future occurrences and maintain your dog’s ear health.

I see ear infections on a daily basis in my own veterinary clinic, and so in this blog post, I’ll unpack the most common reasons behind ear infections and provide valuable advice on how owners can prevent them. So let’s get started!

Common Causes for Ear Infections in Dogs

Anatomy

One reason why dogs may be more susceptible to ear infections is due to their ear anatomy. Unlike human ears, dogs have a vertical ear canal that takes a sharp, horizontal turn before reaching the eardrum. This “L-shape” can easily trap debris, moisture and parasites, creating an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive, leading to infections.

Dogs with long, floppy ears, like basset hounds or cocker spaniels, are more prone to ear infections. Their ear design limits air circulation, which can cause the ear canal to become moist and warm, again providing a perfect breeding ground for infection-causing organisms. Understanding your dog’s unique ear structure can help in taking appropriate preventative measures, such as regular ear cleaning, thus reducing the risk of ear infections.

Allergies

Allergies play a significant role in contributing to ear infections in dogs. These can be environmental allergies, such as dust mites, molds and pollens, or dog food allergies to certain proteins found in dog foods.

When a dog has an allergic reaction, it can lead to inflammation in various parts of the body, including the ears. This inflammation can create an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria and yeast, ultimately leading to an infection. Allergies also cause itching and discomfort, leading dogs to scratch their ears—furthering the risk of infection.

If your dog suffers from recurrent ear infections, then allergies are most likely to blame. Therefore, managing your dog’s allergies, whether through home remedies, medication, dietary changes or environmental modifications, can be a key factor in preventing ear infections.

Underlying Hormonal Conditions

Hormonal conditions play a significant role in the occurrence of ear infections in dogs. Conditions like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease can lead to various skin issues, including infections in the ear. This is because hormones play a key role in maintaining the health and balance of the skin and tissues lining the ear canal.

When hormonal imbalances occur, it can disrupt this balance, leading to increased oil production and changes in the local immunity of the skin. This creates an environment that is conducive to bacterial and yeast overgrowth, which can result in ear infections. Certain hormonal conditions can also lead to increased inflammation, further exacerbating the risk of infections. It’s therefore crucial to manage any underlying hormonal conditions in dogs to help prevent recurring ear infections.

Poor Ear Hygiene

Poor ear hygiene is a significant contributor to ear infections in dogs. Dogs’ ears can accumulate debris, wax and other foreign substances, that, if not regularly cleaned, could create the perfect environment for bacterial and yeast growth.

Moreover, dogs that swim regularly or those that have longer, floppy ears are more prone to build up of debris and infections, thus requiring more frequent cleaning. But before you reach for the ear cleaner, it’s essential to not clean your dog’s ears too frequently; too much can actually wash away the “good” bacteria that play an important role at fighting off infections.

Treatment

The good news is that ear infections in dogs are usually easy to treat and most cases can be cleared up with medication prescribed by a vet. In some cases, your vet may need to clean out your dog’s ears to remove debris or pus.

Preventing ear infections from recurring can be more of a challenge, though. It could be as simple as regularly cleaning your dog’s ears, but for those dogs that suffer a lot from ear issues, allergies are likely to blame.

Speak to your vet about how best to manage your dog’s underlying allergies—they might recommend a hypoallergenic diet or anti-itch medication.

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Conclusion

While ear infections may be common, the good news is that they are entirely preventable. The causes can be as diverse as the breeds themselves—from the unique anatomy of their ears, allergies they may have, underlying hormonal conditions, to the importance of maintaining good ear hygiene. Understanding these factors is the first step in preventing these painful and often recurring conditions.

Remember, our pets rely on us to keep them healthy and comfortable. Regular vet check-ups, attention to any changes in behavior and a proactive approach towards their health can go a long way in keeping ear infections at bay.

About the Author

vet dog keep getting ear infections

Dr. Alex Crow

Dr. Alex Crow (VetMed MRCVS) is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. He perfo[...] Author Details

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