Why does the ear infection keep coming back? | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital

Why does the ear infection keep coming back?

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Stephen examine a dog's ear with an otoscope

Inflamed, painful and infected ears are a common problem for many dogs. While the long, thin and bent ear canal contributes to the problem, not every dog is affected.

The difference between a normal ear canal and and inflamed one is often a "trigger" that tips the scales allowing inflammation and infection to take hold. While there can be many triggers, in the Wollongong area the most common triggers are allergens:

  • Pollens
  • Dust
  • Mites
  • mould spores etc

Allergies cause inflammation in the ear canal. This makes it moist, increases wax formation and reduces air flow, making a perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to grow. These pathogens cause further pain and damage in the canal.

The tell-tale signs of an ear infection are:

  • Ear scratching Head shaking
  • A red, swollen ear
  • Pain on rubbing the ear
  • A head tilt Dark or yellowish discharge
  • A bad smell from the ear

Once infected, appropriate veterinary treatment is mandatory to avoid the infection progressing, causing permanent damage and possibly moving to the middle and inner ear.

At-home prevention

At home there are steps that can be taken to help reduce the number and severity of attacks for dogs prone to infection:

  1. Liquid ear cleaner once or twice a week can help flush out debris and pathogens.
  2. For dogs that get ear problems after swimming, ear cleaners can dry the ears after a swim.
  3. Dietary support in the form of specific skin diets or supplements can reduce inflammation in general and help the skin inside the canal cope allergens better.
  4. Daily antihistamines through the allergy season benefits some dogs.

While most dogs with allergy-related ear problems are unlikely to be cured, management strategies can minimise the frequency and severity of the condition. This will benefit both the pet and you by reducing the pain and irritation that comes with the condition

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