Veterinarians have identified many factors that can increase likelihood for getting ear infections. Causes include allergies, parasites, water, inappropriate grooming, foreign bodies, and physical problems like too-small ear canals.
It may seem silly, but water is commonly what causes ear infections in dogs! Everyone loves a clean-smelling pet, but if your dog gets baths at home frequently, water or moisture may be accidentally getting in their ears. This sets the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and increases the risk of ear infections.
Those adorable fluffy ears that you fell in love with come with a dark side…ear canal hair! Large amounts of hair in the ear canal can make it more difficult for moisture to evaporate, which predisposes these breeds to getting ear infections. Common breeds that may need a little extra hair trimming and pupscaping are poodles, cocker spaniels, and shih tzus, but any cute fluffy-eared pup should have this concern addressed!
For repeat victims of ear infection, consider an underlying cause like food allergies. Some dogs are allergic to a particular food and this can manifest as chronic ear infections. Some ear infections keep coming back because something is stuck in the canal. A thorough ear exam with your veterinarian is recommended to rule this out. Dogs may be more susceptible to foreign matter in their ears during certain times of the year. For instance, “foxtails” are dreaded during dry summer months.
Cats can show signs of ear mites more commonly than dogs. If you are noticing intense itching and dark coffee ground material in the ear canal, your vet can evaluate a sample of the ear discharge under a microscope to evaluate for possible mites.
An in-home Fuzzy visit can provide an ear exam to look into the ear and examine the canal and ear drum. Ear cytologies can be performed, to evaluate for mites, bacteria, and yeast. Allergy testing can be done to see if there is an underlying allergic component. Various treatments can be prescribed, including long-acting ointments and ear cleaners.