Every day, veterinarians encounter canine patients with some form of dog ear infection. These infections can be caused by bacteria, fungus or parasites, and sometimes infections can be caused by a foreign body such as foxtail.
Let’s talk about the anatomy of a dog’s ear
A dog’s ear can be divided into 4 different parts:
- Pinna (or ear flap, or auricle)
- External ear canal
- Middle ear
- Internal ear
There are more than a dozen muscles just for controlling the movement of the ear. The ears are very rich with blood vessels and nerves and are highly sensitive. In many occasions, excessive scratching or head shaking can lead to damaging a blood vessel which can result in filling the ear flap with blood. This condition needs to be corrected surgically.
Dog ear infections
When a dog has an ear infection it is very noticeable. There are 3 types of ear infection in dogs: otits externa, otitis media, and otitis interna, affecting different types of the ear. Sometimes, infections can spread to multiple parts of the dog’s ear.
Otitis externa refers to the outer part of the ear, and otitis media and interna are infections of the middle and inner ear most likely as a result of untreated infection of the outer ear that spread.
The symptoms of a dog ear infection are very obvious and they can include the obvious head shaking and scratching, foul odor, head tilting, scaling of the skin, redness, and swelling, dark smelly discharge etc.
The most common culprits for dog ear infections are bacteria, yeast, viruses, ear mites, allergies, foreign bodies, hormonal disbalance, autoimmune diseases (such as Pemphigus), injuries, meningitis, encephalitis, and others.
Every dog ear infections need to be precisely diagnosed in order to prescribe the correct treatment. Some ear infections are so severe that they require system medications, but some can be treated with antibiotics or antimycotic drops.
In the video below, you can see several different types of ear infections.
If you want to learn more about the diagnostics of dog ear infections read “How to use an otoscope” on our blog.