How to prevent ear infections in dogs

How to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs

Among domestic animals, dogs stand out as one of the most vulnerable to ear infections. And although these ear infections don’t necessarily imply significant health problems, treating them on time, and better yet, preventing them, is important to our dog’s health. There are a variety of factors that can increase the risk of getting infections, including hygiene, the places the dog hangs out, and even its anatomy. But regardless of your canine's breed, the tips below will help you prevent ear infections and keep them healthy and comfortable.

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Common Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs

According to the American Kennel Club, an estimated 20 percent of dogs suffer from some form of ear canal disease, including infections, so we’re faced with a fairly common problem. Fortunately, despite being common, they’re also (somewhat) preventable. But before talking about how to prevent them, it’s essential to mention the factors that predispose a canine to ear infections.

1. Anatomical Predisposition: Breeds with Large, Hanging Ears

It’s well known that some dog breeds are born predisposed to ear infections due to their particular lop-eared anatomy. Some good examples of this include Basset Hounds, Poodles, Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels.

2. Excess Moisture in the Ears

Where there is water, there is life, and the hanging ears of many dogs are an ideal place for it. Whether due to poor drying after a regular bath or having had contact with damp surfaces, this factor is one of the most influential in the development of ear infections due to the growth of bacteria and fungi.

3. Poor Ear Hygiene

While a dog's bathing routine can vary based on its breed, most vets agree that doing it frequently and correctly is vital to their overall health. As part of a dog’s bathing and grooming routine, the ears should be regularly cleaned. Just like people, a dog’s ear canal can accumulate waxy substances. Although wax production varies from dog to dog, it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure the cleanliness of the ears and to have the ears examined by a vet should problems arise.

4. Allergies and Other Autoimmune Diseases

Although it’s clear that bacteria and fungus are the main causes of ear infections in dogs, the reason why they occur can be extensive. For example, endocrine disorders, food allergies, or skin sensitivity to certain substances are some common causes.

Statistics indicate that allergies that affect the skin cause approximately 50 percent of canine diseases at the ear level. Eighty percent of dogs with food sensitivities are also affected by them.

5. Wounds On or Around the Ear

In addition, hidden and untreated injuries to the ears can also predispose your dog to germs. Open wounds are easy areas for harmful bacteria to grow. In this sense, the shape of his body again plays a role, especially when the dog's ears have a lot of contact with the ground when they lay, and with their paws when they scratch and rub.

Expert Tips to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs

Once the main causes of ear infections in dogs are clear, we can talk about preventive measures. Below are the most popular recommendations among veterinarians:

1. Proper hygiene: clean your dog's ears carefully and with suitable products.

Ear hygiene is vital to prevent ear infections in dogs. Frequency and technique are important. The best way to clean your dog’s ears is to lift the ear, spray or flush the ear canal with an approved solution, and then massage the base for 20 to 30 seconds. After that, your dog will shake its head to remove the fluid and debris.

Although swabs can be used in the folds inside the ear, it’s best to avoid inserting them into the ear canal. As in humans, this can push wax inside, cause plugging, and have the opposite effect.

It’s also important to use suitable solutions. Homemade ones, such as dilute hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol, are discouraged because of their abrasiveness and high-water content. Therefore, it’s best to consult with a vet for the most effective and safest option.

2. Keep your dog's ears dry.

In addition to the special washing of the ears, keeping them dry is a priority. One option is to place cotton balls inside them to prevent moisture from getting inside during bathing.

But experts on the subject say that the best way to prevent ear infections in dogs is to clean and dry them every 5 to 10 days. The frequency will change if yours is a swimming breed; in that case, drying should be done immediately to avoid the colonization of bacteria and yeast.

3. Avoid removing hair from the ear canals unless necessary.

Excessive hair can always cause problems, but before proceeding to eliminate the hair in your dog’s ears, certain criteria must be applied. Removing hair from the ear canals is not recommended in dogs that have never had infections in the past. Also, this should always be done in the hands of an experienced groomer or veterinary professional.

4. Use appropriate supplements for healthy skin and hair.

Although no supplements can form the basis of a pet's diet, they are useful when allergies predispose them to ear infections. For these cases, experts recommend a daily supplement of Omega-3 fatty acids that will help reduce inflammation and strengthen their immune system. Be sure to discuss recommended brands and dosing with your veterinarian.

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