For the love of you pet: Keep dog's ears clean, avoid ear infections

Why does my dog always get ear infections?

It is completely natural to have moderate levels of bacteria and yeast in Fido's ears. If those moderate numbers become elevated by external factors, such as swimming or moist environments, ear infections are prominent. Another frequent cause of ear infections that many people overlook is allergies to medication, plus environmental, food allergies and hyperthyroidism.

Before you think your pet has an ear infection, you might want to make sure ear mites, fleas, ticks, foreign bodies or even trauma to the ear is not the culprit. Fleas and ticks tend to colonize in the ears, no sunlight and no abrasive contact is perfect environment for these invaders to thrive.

I have seen very few instances when foreign objects get lodged down the canal, not visible by lifting the ear flap. Trauma is another instance that many seem to overlook. It may be the Fourth of July or New Year's Day and the constant loud popping sounds to Fido's hypersensitive ears might even rupture his ear drum with the boom.

Prevention is the best way to treat ear infections. I have clients that clean their dog's ears on a regular basis; once every one to two weeks drastically reduces opportunity for bacteria and yeast to grow. Some clients would love to clean ears, but are fearful to perhaps rupture their pet's ear drum.

A light squirt of a prescription or over-the-counter ear cleaning solution, a few cotton balls and some cotton swabs is all you'll need to get your beloved pet's ears in tip top shape. A little trick that I tell clients that puts them at ease is that your best friend's ears are shaped in an L. All you need to do is squirt some solutions into the ear, then massage the base of the ear to dislodge the debris hiding in the canal.

With a cotton ball, remove excess solution, then follow up with a cotton swab keeping it in a vertical up and down motion. Then stand clear of your dog because he is most likely going to shake his head and fling debris and solution you might have missed around the room.

Some common signs that your dog might have an ear infection: Redness or swelling visible in the canal, black, yellow, clear pasty or liquid discharge from the ears, fowl odors emitting from ears, rubbing or scratching at or around ear area or sensitivity to the ears.

Another frequent cause of ear infections that many people overlook is allergies to medication. Even your sweet gentle dogs might be a little snappy when you try and examine their ears. I would recommend bringing your pet in to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and medication for your pet's specific needs.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.