An ear infection is the result of a microorganism and microscopic parasites invading and successfully colonizing one or more canals of the ear. Bacteria, yeast and ear mite infections are the most common types. Many conditions can make a pet predisposed to ear infections including allergies, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, autoimmune condition, genetical deformity, growth or tumors, trauma, ruptured ear drum etc. Foreign bodies or trapped moisture from swimming or bathing can also increase the risk of ear infections.
An ear problem is caused by:
- Foreign body
- Ear mite
- Food allergy
- Wax plug
- Excessive hair
- Soap and water
- Some ear cleaners and ear treatments
It is a good idea to check your pet’s ears regularly to catch any signs of infection. Watch your pet’s behavior for frequent head shaking or rubbing ears with paws or on objects. Observe the ear for any redness, sensitivity or odor. Note any buildup of debris inside the ear. Dark brown or black colored debris is a sign of infection; this may look like dirt but it is not.
Remember that the sooner an ear infection gets proper medical attention the more easily it can be treated with less suffering to the pet.
In some cases there are no obvious symptoms at all but here are some symptoms to look for:
- Head shaking
- Head tilt
- Scratching the ear with paws or on other surfaces
- Painful ears when touched
- Redness or swelling of the ear
- Hot or unusually warm ear
- Discharge from the ear
- An odor from the ear
- Darker fur on rear paw from scratching infected ear
Other problems can be deeper down into the ear canals and would require a thorough exam by your veterinarian. If left untreated, these problems can cause chronic pain and infection leading to more obvious symptoms.