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Dog Ear Infections for Beginners

This is a Guest Blog Post written by Dr. Susan Wright, Staff Veterinarian for DogFenceDIY.com

Dog Ear Infections for Beginners:

You notice that your dog has been swatting at his ears or shaking his head excessively. These are the classic signs of an ear infection. What causes ear infections in dogs and how are infections treated?

Dog ear infections do not happen spontaneously, but are secondary to some other condition going on in the dog’s ear. The most common causes are:

Allergies, either to foods, or the environment or a combination of both. Allergies cause an increase of secretion production (which naturally happens to keep the ears clean). Dead skin, warmth and moisture from the increase in secretion production are the perfect breeding ground for bacterial or fungal infections.   For example, even though German Shepherds have erect ears, they are prone to allergies, which also make them prone to ear infections.

Foreign bodies. Plant matter, ear canal masses and impacted ear wax may lead to infection.

Ear anatomy. Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to infections due to the outside of the ear, the pinna, flopping over the opening of the ear. This reduces the amount of air that can get to the inner ear and creates a warm and moist environment. The breeds of dogs that fall into this category include pugs, spaniels, basset hounds and poodles. Also, some dogs have a narrowing or stenosis of the ear canal, which also stops air circulating and keeps the ear canal warm and moist.

You’ll need to visit your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis as to the cause of your dog’s ear problem.

She will take a look at the outside and inside of your dog’s ears using an otoscope to determine the extent of the infection. If the infection is only on the pinna and outer ear, the irritation maybe due to mild allergies, mites or scabies, and a topical medication may be all that’s needed.

If you dog has had chronic inner ear infections or infections that have never resolved over a period of months, a maintenance treatment plan of topical and systemic medications may be the best way to bring your dog some relief.

If the ear is very painful, or the infection is the result of a foreign body, or mass in the ear canal, your dog may need an anesthetic to allow your vet a good look at what’s going on.

She will also take a sample of the secretions to look at under a microscope to determine if bacteria or fungi are growing, and she may even have the sample cultured in a lab to see what specifically is growing so the appropriate medication can be prescribed.

When your vet has established the cause of your dog’s ear infection, she can start an appropriate course of treatment.

The ear first needs to be cleaned with a gentle cleanser to remove as much of the discharge as possible. Do not use cotton tips to “dig” the discharge out. You may actually push it further into the ear canal.

Antibiotic drops may be prescribed to topically treat the infection. Most antibiotic drops also contain an anti-inflammatory to reduce the pain in the ear. Sometimes, antibiotic tablets are added when the infection is more advanced.

In more chronic cases when long term inflammation has thickened the outer canal, and is preventing air circulation and drainage of any fluid, surgery may be necessary. This surgery will open up the ear canal and allow more air to get to the canal, and allow the ear to drain properly.

There are steps you can take to prevent your dog getting ear infections.

Keep the outer opening of the ear as clean and dry as possible. Trim or pluck the hair from in and around the ears. If your dog swims or has floppy ears, ask your vet about products to dry out the ear canal and stop moisture accumulating.

If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection, do not use old medications from previous infections. Your vet will need to reexamine your pet to determine what the next course of action should be, including what ear drops are important. Using the wrong medication can make things worse.

Ear infections are usually preventable. Your vet can show you how to properly care for your dogs ears to keep infections at a minimum and treat them efficiently and thoroughly when they do occur.

This Guest Blog Post was written by Dr. Susan Wright, Staff Veterinarian for Dog Fence DIY, a provider of do-it-yourself dog fence solutions.

Additionally, Malacetic Wipes & Malacetic Otic solution are great for cleaning pug ears & folds to help prevent buildup bad-ear-stuff.  Check the products out and read the reviews — they are what we use on our pugs and are what our vet has recommended for cleaning their ears.

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Gadget’s Temaril Side Effects


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In other news, Gadget hasn’t had any swelling, but he’s still been itching some.  Also, the Temaril the doctor gave him is making him lethargic and thirsty.  Also, I’m not sure if it’s a side effect of the medicine, but he’s also really hot.  (Side effects of temaril at Yahoo Answers, Pfizer Animal Health.) If you touch his ears or let him lick you, you can just feel that he’s a lot hotter than Gizmo.  I think it’s related.  Anyway, the combination of lethargy and thirst has been causing him to not want to go outside… to pee…  And as a result, well, he’s been just randomly letting it out.  Not even going over to a sofa corner, bed corner, the trash can (the spots they sometimes mark) — he’s just stopping, not even lifting a leg or squatting, and just dropping down a puddle.

It just took me 10 minutes with him outside to get him to pee, most of which was spent with him staring at me, just looking at me.  When he wasnt standing there, he was trying to get past me back into the house.  (Note, it was also fairly wet outside tonight)

I had to carry him into the yard a couple times, but eventually, he decided to “go.”  It was a good thing, too, because he actually did have to go.  He just didn’t want to, for some reason.

Hopefully, this is just the medicine he’s taking, and all will be back to normal soon.  We’re keeping a close eye on his condition!

Poor Gadget is taking Temaril for Allergies


We took G&G into the vet on Thursday for two reasons. First, to have their teeth cleaned. Second, Gizmo had a small tumor removed from his mouth. They both came home fine, and the Vet doesn’t think that Gizmo’s tumor isn’t the bad kind of tumor. However, on the ride home, and then getting worse for the next hour or two, Gadget’s face got really puffy, especially the tissue around his eyes.

Last time we took him to the Vet for the puffiness on the face, the Vet told us to give him small doses of Benadryl. So, we did the same thing this time. However, Tricia took him back to the vet the next day, and now he’s got some medicine.

But, there’s more! He keeps breaking out whenever the medicine wears off, which means he can’t sleep through the night (and neither can Tricia). He’s also congested, and this is causing him to have some trouble breathing.

The Vet thinks that he’s allergic to something in our house, so we’re going to try having him stay w/ my parents to see if that helps – if we take him out of the environment, and he gets better, then we know it’s something in our house.

The picture is of gadget, not feeling very well. When he’s scared sometimes, he hides under our bed. He did this, and then kinda laid down on his side. POOR GADGET!!

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Gadget’s Just Fine


Gadget has recovered just fine.  His face no longer has any of the swelling it had yesterday.  He’s back to his normal happy (hungry) self now.  It appears as though it was some kind of an insect bite, we just don’t know how he got it, as he had not been out yesterday morning yet.

Firm Puffy Swelling on the Lip / Face


We woke up this morning, and everything was fine.  However, a little while later, Gadget’s face started to swell.  It was almost like he had a bug bite! (it turns out that may have been what it was).  However, we’d never seen anything like this on either G or G before.  We didn’t know if it was going to get worse and possibly cause problems breathing, so we decided he needed to see the vet.

It was no problem for them to see us, so we just went over first thing.  Gadget had to have his temperature taken (oh oh!) and the doc gave him a steroid shot and some benadryl.  We’ve got to give him benadryl 3 times per day for the next two days.  I think the steroid shot really worked, because his face is a lot better now, though you can still tell that something was wrong.  Hopefully everything will be back to normal again soon.

Air Filters for Pug Dog Allergies


Dyson, meet Austin. Austin is the newest addition to our allergy prevention family. The Austin Healthmate Jr. is a really high quality HEPA air filter / purification system.

I used to have them at the place where I worked prior to law school, and (in my opinion) they performed really well. However, Tricia thinks that air filters might be more placebo than anything else, but I’m hoping she’ll notice enough of a difference to be converted.

Time will tell!