Dog ear infections are one of the top ailments that a dog is presented for. Head shaking, ear scratching and foul ear odor are all possible symptoms of an ear infection. Learn about how we work up ear infections in dogs as well as about possible underlying causes of chronic ear infections.
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Ear Infections in Dogs
Dogs can get ear infections for any number of reasons. conformation of certain breeds predispose the ear to infections. Generally, genetic traits that inhibit air drying of the ear or normal drainage of ear debris tend to cause an increased incidence of ear infections. Other reasons for ear infections in dogs are exposure to water and skin allergies. Certainly, many ear infections occur for no specific reason at all.
At our animal hospitals, we believe as veterinarians that in order to treat an ear infection appropriately, we must have an adequate idea of what organism(s) we are dealing with. As a start, after our otoscopic exam, we will recommend doing an ear cytology exam. An ear cytology exam is a microscopic look at a stained slide of ear discharge picked up with an ear swab. With this slide, we can get an idea as to whether the predominant organism responsible for the infection is a bacteria or yeast or both. Based on this determination, we can choose a course of treatment.
Other diagnostic options include doing a culture and sensitivity of the ear discharge, and possibly x-rays of the skull to determine the extent of the ear infection. Other treatment options may include surgery to correct genetic abnormalities or allergy testing to determine what allergens your pet is sensitive to.
- Sam D. Meisler DVM
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