During the hot humid weather of summer the change in climate alone is enough to change the environment in a dog’s ear and trigger an infection.
We expect to see dogs almost every day with sore ears during the warm months of the year.
Ear infections are caused by a number of factors and many dogs with ongoing ear issues have underlying skin problems/allergies. They may have ear mites, occasionally foreign bodies (grass lawns) are present or the conformation and amount of hair contained within the ear canal can contribute to the development of a mucky ear. Dogs that swim a lot can get ear problems from getting water in the ear and even being too rough when cleaning the ear or excessive plucking may cause an ear infection.
As you will see from the diagram, with the shape of a dog’s ear canal it is not so easy for wax and debris to drain out. Add to this some hair and hot humid weather, maybe a bit of swelling from an allergy and you have a great environment for yeasts and bacteria multiply in and create a sore infected ear.
Tips for preventing ear infections (some ear infections are not preventable)
Treat any existing skin disease – allergies, skin infection
Keep the opening to the ear canal free of matted hair – clip the fur around the outside of the ear and gently remove any matts. Do not forcibly pluck the ear as this causes inflammation that can lead to infection
Clean waxy ears every 2 – 4 weeks (see below for ear cleaning advice)
Treat existing ear infections – make an appointment for one of our vets to examine any infected ears
Cleaning Waxy Ears
Use an ear cleaner that dissolves wax and dries the ear (Epi Otic) . These drops are designed to loosen the debris inside the ear so that it can be dislodge when the dog shakes its head.
If the ear is red, swollen, pussy or it hurts your dog when cleaning or your dog is shaking its head or scratching its ears excessively or is holding its head to one side please see one of our vets for an examination before proceeding any further.
- Fill the ear with cleaner
- Massage gently
for 1 minute. If it is sore even with gentle massaging stop and see the vet
- Wipe away any debris from the outside of the ear with cotton wool
- Wait for 30 minutes before putting any medicated drops that have been prescribed into the ear
Chronic ear problems can be difficult to manage and dogs with persistently bad ears often need to be examined and have their ears flushed while anaesthetised. Samples can be taken from the ear at this time and analysed. Occasionally surgery is needed to fix ongoing ear issues and a referral to a specialist veterinary dermatologist may help identify underlying allergies.