How Do I Know if My Dog Has an Ear Infection in Ukiah, CA?

Dog ear infections can be easy to recognize in some dogs and harder in others. You’ll probably notice them scratching their ear or the side of their head or face first. Head-shaking is another common sign. If it happens once or twice, you can generally disregard it, but if it’s happening frequently over the course of a day or more, an infection is likely and for the sake of your pet’s comfort, you should take them to their vet within a couple of days.

Dog Ear Infection in Ukiah, CA

Causes of Dog Ear Infections

Sometimes an ear infection just happens without a known cause, something small and insignificant enough that you won’t be able to identify it. A stray hair or blade of grass could irritate the tissue inside the ear. A normal ear scratch that went a little too deep could cause an abrasion. A dog has floppy ears that hold in excess moisture in humid weather. Another dog loves swimming so much that their ears are always full of water and maybe even mud or dirt. All of these things are natural irritants that can disturb tissue health within the ear and leave it prone to infection.

Allergies

Dogs with allergies are especially prone to ear infections. Allergies can cause skin irritation and inflammation, disturbing normal skin health and inviting infection. The ears may already be red and irritated from allergies, and they’ll get even worse when infection sets in.

Bacteria and Yeast

When the tissue inside the ear is irritated, a dog ear infection is almost guaranteed to follow. All skin has natural populations of bacteria and yeast. Infection starts when something disturbs those natural populations, and allows them to change. If a type of bacteria or yeast, that is normally in low numbers, has the opportunity to grow larger in numbers, the infection is taking hold. This disturbance irritates the tissue further, and the body responds by sending white blood cells to combat it. The combination of white blood cells, fluid from irritated tissues, and bacteria, is what creates odor, discharge, and sometimes even pus.

Treating Dog Ear Infections in Ukiah, CA

At the earliest signs of a dog ear infection, cleaning the ears may be enough to hold off the infection and get ears back to normal health. There are a variety of products available over-the-counter. A basic ear cleaner should be sufficient, it’s not necessary to pick something fancy (though a product that contains aloe may be soothing!) If you can’t get an ear cleaner, diluted white vinegar will work. Dilute it in a 50/50 mixture with water and rinse the ear gently. Don’t over-concentrate it. It’s better for it to be a little extra dilute.

Never use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, or peroxide/alcohol based cleaners. While they do have antiseptic properties, they are extremely irritating to skin, can delay healing, and will definitely cause incredible pain when applied to tissue that is already sensitive.

Old Medication

So what if you already have medication at home from a previous dog ear infection? Don’t use it. You can hold on to it for future use, in case that’s the same medication your veterinarian wants to prescribe, but not all ear infections are the same, and not all of them will respond to the same medications. If you start applying an inappropriate medication to the wrong kind of infection, you can actually create a worse infection that is harder to treat. Superbugs and antibiotic resistance are a real concern.

Visit Your Vet for Dog Ear Infections in Ukiah, CA

It’s important to get your dog to their veterinarian if one basic ear cleaning doesn’t clear up the issue. Even if you decided to start treating with a medication at home, if that didn’t solve the problem, it’s best to not apply any medication for at least 24 hours before the visit. The veterinarian may want to take a sample of any discharge or pus from the ear and look at it under a microscope. The presence of medication in the ear canal could interfere with their ability to accurately diagnose.

If your dog has an ear infection call (707) 462-8833 and talk to the veterinarians at Mendocino Animal Hospital!

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About Mendocino Animal Hospital

At Mendocino Animal Hospital, we believe in fostering the human-animal bond with excellent veterinary medicine. Our full-service veterinary practice operates in Ukiah, CA with a team of skilled veterinarians and a passionate, talented support staff who make you feel like a part of the family.

As an AAHA-accredited animal hospital, every service and aspect of our practice meets AAHA’s Standards of Excellence. No matter what your pet comes in for, they’ll receive only the best in care, compassion, and service.