Dog owners are quick to jump to conclusions as to what is causing their dog’s ear problems. They will self diagnose the poor pooch and are often times wrong. Deciding what you think is the matter with your dog’s ears and treating it yourself can be harmful to your dog and what is really wrong will continue to be a problem.
Ear Mites in a Dog’s Ear
If the dog appears to be scratching at his ears or shaking his head, owners are quick to assume that the dog has ear mites. According to Dennis W. Thomas, DVM, about 10 % of the dog’s he sees for ear problems actually do have ear mites. Their owners had even been treating them for ear mites unsuccessfully.
If it is something other than ear mites, the ear mite medicine will not help their condition and in some cases may cause further harm. Ear mites are parasites, just like fleas and ticks. These tiny little bugs will crawl around in your dog’s ear canal and make him or her miserable. They are very hard to see and therefore very hard to diagnose.
Foreign Objects in a Dog’s Ear
If you think this is laughable, think again! Dog’s can and do get many foreign objects lodged in their ears. Consider the many different activities your dog is involved in on a daily basis. If the dog runs through an open meadow or tall grassy area, he or she may pick up any number of objects that can get lodged in the ear canal.
Bits and pieces of weeds or stickers can get lodged in the dog’s fur and ears. Nettles that we refer to as “hitch hikers” are sharp and may poke and stick. Even bits of wheat and corn shucks from fields can find their way into your dog’s ears.
If Fido has been romping out in the wild, it is a good idea to clean his ears with a good ear wash when he comes home. If you don’t have commercial ear wash on hand, dab a cotton ball with some mineral oil and swab gently just inside the ear. Look closely to see if anything has made its way into the canal.
Water in the Dog’s Ear
Water is a nuisance, especially in dogs with long floppy ears. If your dog likes to swim in lakes or creeks, he also gets water in his ears. Even though dogs shake their heads after swimming or bathing, this really will not dry the ear canal. Long floppy ears restrict the air flow and there is a potential breeding ground for bacteria.
Bathing your dog can create a hazard for their ears as well unless you are careful not to get water in the ear. This is sometimes near impossible for a squirmy little dog. Always follow bath time with a good cleaning solution that also helps dry the ear. You can buy this at the local pet store, or you can get it from your vet. Getting it from the vet will cost more.
Be cautious where your dog’s ears are concerned. If they are red and irritated, or if they have a foul smell, take your dog to the vet for proper diagnoses. Trying to treat them yourself may cause further problems and do little to treat what is actually wrong with them.