Let’s face it: a dog’s ear is the perfect incubator for all sorts of nasty organisms, which is why ear infections are one of the most common reasons our dog friends visit the vet! The general term for an ear infection is “otitis,” which is not specific to a disease but, instead, is a side effect of several different things that can cause an infection in the ear.
There are various causes of ear infection for dogs.
Some of the most common include:
- Conformation; much more common in dogs with large floppy ears
- Bacteria; usually secondary to another problem
- Yeast; usually secondary to another problem
- Ear mites (parasite)—especially in puppies; highly contagious among dogs
- Anatomical issues such as skin folds, narrow ear canal openings, growths, etc.
- Self-inflicted trauma from rubbing and scratching
- Foreign objects (moisture, seeds, hair, wax)
- Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome
If your best friend has an ear infection, you might see—or in some cases smell—some of the following symptoms with regard to the affected ear:
- Unpleasant odor
- Hot and painful to the touch
- Wet sound when massaged, or the inside may seem abnormally moist
- Shaking of the head
- Scabs or inflammation
Ear infections can resolve quickly or become chronic, depending on the underlying cause. To diagnose an ear infection, your veterinarian will take a thorough history and perform a complete physical exam of your pet. They will also perform a careful examination of the ears, using an otoscope to look down the ear canal. Depending on what your veterinarian finds, other tests or procedures may be performed for an accurate diagnosis.
Some additional tests your veterinarian may recommend include:
- Cytology, which identifies if yeast, bacteria, or other microorganisms are present
- A culture to determine which type of bacteria is present
- Blood tests to rule out hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, or other underlying problems
Treating ear infections can be very tricky, especially if allergies are involved. Treatment will depend on the cause, nature, and severity of the ear infection. Your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment for your dog’s particular situation. Treatment may include:
- Antibiotic ointments, drops, sprays, or creams for the ear
- Oral antibiotics
- Surgery—for dogs with repeated ear infections or no response to other treatment
Here are some suggestions you can follow to help your dog avoid ear infections or a relapse into infection:
- Keeping your dog's ears clean can help prevent infection; watch this video on how to clean a dog's ears
- Avoid moisture in your dog’s ears
- Treat an ear problem as soon as it’s discovered
- Understand how and where to put medication
- Do follow-up checks, as recommended by your veterinarian
- Complete all medication regimes, even if the ear looks better before the completion of treatment
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
5 Signs Your Dog has a Tooth Infection
Periodontal disease is one of the most common afflictions seen in companion pets. Teeth and the tissue that surrounds them (gingiva, tooth socket, etc.) can easily become infected. Daily oral home care in the form of tooth brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats are helpful to ward off periodontal disease. As with humans, teeth must be kept clean to remain healthy and prevent dental disease and dog tooth infection.
Dogs start with 42 teeth (incisors, canines, premolars, and molars.) However, by the age of 3 most dogs have experienced dental disease or tooth infection that ultimately requires an extraction. Five common signs that indicate a dog tooth infection may be present include:
- Oral discomfort or a toothache. Dental disease is painful! However, many dogs will never show outward signs of pain. To show pain is to show weakness and be more susceptible as prey, even though they may not have active predators in their environment.
- Bad breath. Dental infections frequently cause halitosis (bad breath). This is easily the most common complaint from dog owners when their pet is dealing with dental disease.
- Drooling. Drooling may occasionally be observed in dogs with dental infections, but this is typically more common in cats.
- Decreased appetite. Some dogs will have a decreased food intake or simply eat their food more slowly when they are dealing with a dental infection. However, many dogs have a normal appetite when they have dental infections. Their natural survival instincts are so strong, they simply will not give up their desire to eat.
- Facial swelling. Facial swelling is occasionally observed with infections in the upper jaw (maxilla) and should be evaluated as soon as possible by your veterinarian. Some dental infections of the upper jaw will even lead to signs of upper respiratory disease due to the close proximity of upper jaw teeth to the nasal passages.
It’s key to remember that most dogs have some form of dental disease and infection by the age of 3 years or sooner, but more often than not, they show no outward signs of infection and pain. This fact emphasizes the need for regular dental care that is guided by your veterinarian.
Oral health is vital for the overall digestive health, respiratory health, and vitality of dogs. Infected teeth are painful and contribute negatively to the pet's overall health. Call us today at Animal Dental Care & Oral Surgery (with a new office in Loveland) to schedule an appointment to discuss your pet's oral health needs.
Does your dog have a tooth infection in Castle Rock, Colorado Springs or Loveland, CO?
Contact us today at (719) 536-9949!
Do Cats Hear Better Than Dogs?
Dogs versus cats: it’s the age-old quandary. While neither species of animal is better than the other – contrary to what many would debate – they each hold unique qualities that set them apart. Dogs retain a superior sense of smell cats can fall from great heights and walk away unscathed.
But which animal has the better auditory system? The answer may surprise you.
The feline sense of hearing is considerably more sensitive than dogs and humans (and many other mammals). A healthy cat’s hearing ability is a true biological marvel. According to an article published on Animal Planet’s website, a cat’s ears are “like a sophisticated satellite dish turning to pick up a signal.” The article goes on to explain that “the cat’s external ear flap, or pinna, rotates up to 180 degrees to locate and identify even the faintest of squeaks, peeps or rustling noises.”
In humans, the ear canal is extremely short and measures just 2.5 centimeters in length. However, both canines and felines possess a long ear canal that “makes almost a 90-degree bend as it travels to the deeper parts of the ear,” explains Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Although humans and cats have a similar range of hearing (on the fairly low-end of the scale) cats are capable of hearing much higher-pitched sounds of up to 1.6 octaves above the human range, and one octave above the range of a canine. Indeed, a healthy cat can even judge within three inches the location of a sound being made three feet away, which assists in the locating of prey. They can also “hear sounds at great distances – four or five times farther away than humans.”
A feline’s ears are an extreme asset but, despite their abilities, remain a very fragile piece of anatomy. The delicate nature of a cat’s ear canal makes it an ideal environment for one of the most common ear troubles in pets: otitis externa.
Otitis externa is the inflammation of the outer ear canal, and is one of the most common reasons why pets are taken to the veterinarian. In general, cats tend to have fewer ear problems than their canine counterparts, but otitis externa can affect either species at any age, and can be very painful to boot.
There are many causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal in pets, including an allergic skin disease, parasites, food allergies, autoimmune diseases and foreign objects in the ears. An ear canal with otitis externa can also become a breeding ground for bacterial or yeast infections – the damp, warm conditions of the ear canal also assist in making it the perfect environment for these microbes to thrive – and it’s quite common to find an animal with otitis externa has an accompanying ear infection.
Symptoms of an ear infection or inflammation may include scratching or rubbing of the ears, bad odor in the ears, shaking of the head, discharge from ears (pus, watery fluid), and red or swollen ear canals. If any of these symptoms are noticeable, it is advised that you contact your veterinarian before the problem worsens.
Symptoms of Foul Smelling Ears in Dogs
There are a number of things which can cause the canine ear to become stinky. Here are some of the symptoms you may notice:
- Persistent scratching sometimes to the point of being obsessive
- Red and irritated areas from constant scratching
- Open scratch wounds or sores
- Pain or tenderness when the ears are touched or rubbed
- Sour smell similar to the smell of sourdough starter
- Vigorous head shaking or rubbing ears on the carpet
- Dark discharge or darkened and excessive amounts of earwax
There are several types of conditions which can result in foul smelling ears in dogs:
Ear infections - This can be bacterial or fungal in nature yeast infections are among the fungal organisms which are known to afflict canines
Cuts, abrasions and other wounds in the ear canal - These can result from nail injuries from the persistent scratching that accompanies ear infections