If your pup is shaking his head, scratching at his ears, or rubbing them on the ground or couch, it’s time for a vet checkup. These could be signs of an ear infection in your pup.

A dog ear infection is an inflammation of the outer and middle ears that can cause discomfort to your four-legged friend. Left untreated, these infections could also lead to hearing loss.

Ear infections are typically caused by an abundance of yeast or bacteria on your pet’s external ear canal. Most often, these germs are harmless and part of a normal microbiome that lives there naturally.

However, if your dog has an imbalance in its microbiome or has an abnormally narrow ear canal, these microorganisms may overgrow. This creates an environment that fosters germs and leads to infection.

An ear infection may present with red, irritated skin in the ear and a discharge that smells strongly. It may also appear crusty or thickened inside the canal, making it hard to touch (stenotic).

An ear infection typically has a foul, foul odor that resembles rotting eggs. Bacteria are the most common culprit behind ear infections, but yeast or fungus can also be present.

Some breeds of dogs are more vulnerable to ear infections than others, but all dogs can experience them at some point in their life. Unfortunately, the infections don’t go away on their own; however, your veterinarian can treat and manage the infection so your pup gets back up on his feet and feels comfortable again.

Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam to assess your dog’s ears for signs of an overgrowth of bacteria, yeast, or mites. Depending on the severity of their symptoms and other factors, they may prescribe medication, flushes, and cleansing agents as necessary.

If there is a foreign object, wax plug, or parasite in the ear canal, it must be removed to avoid infection. Some dogs may require sedated assistance during this process.

Your vet will use an otoscope to examine your dog’s ear and assess its condition, as well as check for any underlying issues that could be causing their symptoms.

Treatment for an ear infection usually involves cleaning the ears, applying topical medications, and maintaining a long-term maintenance program to restore your dog’s microbiome balance. If the infection is severe or the underlying condition causes recurring episodes, your veterinarian may suggest a longer course of medications or possibly more specialized medication in order to effectively address it.

Most cases of ear infections in dogs resolve within one to two weeks. However, if not addressed promptly and effectively, the infection can become chronic and the antibiotics prescribed may not work effectively. This may indicate a more serious underlying issue or resistance to medications – meaning your pup could end up needing further treatments in the future for these issues.