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Causes of Your Dog’s Ear Problems

Your golden retriever Sophie seems totally miserable. She constantly digs at her ears and violently shakes her head. Sophie won’t even let you scratch her ears, which she enjoys more than anything else in the world. You also saw some ugly black discharge in her ears this morning. You suspect that Sophie has developed an ear condition, as the area between her outside ear opening and eardrum can be bombarded by a host of irritants. You’ve already scheduled an appointment with your Livonia veterinarian, who will analyze Sophie’s symptoms and prescribe a treatment plan.

 

Anatomy and Allergies

Floppy-eared dogs such as basset hounds and bloodhounds have terrible ear ventilation. This creates a moist, welcoming environment for bacteria and yeast. Other breeds often suffer from skin allergies, which can cause chronic ear inflammation and make these dogs prone to ear infections. Chronic ear infections can result in damaged ear tissues and even a ruptured eardrum. If this occurs, the infection gets a free pass into the dog’s middle and inner ear, leading to balance problems and woozy-looking walking behavior.

 

Bacteria and Yeast

Sophie’s ear canal lining normally hosts a minimal amount of bacteria and yeast. These tiny organisms normally don’t present a problem, but favorable growth conditions can cause their populations to multiply incredibly fast. As a result, Sophie’s ears become inflamed and irritated, and often give off a nasty odor and discharge.

 

Ear-dwelling Parasites

Perhaps Sophie has become the victim of a highly contagious ear mite infestation, which can cause profound itching and scratching. Ear mite victims also produce a waxy-looking black discharge. Ticks can attach themselves to the inside of Sophie’s ears, causing irritation and possibly blocking her ear canal. This blockage prevents normal ear ventilation and can affect her hearing.

 

Treatment Protocol

First, your Livonia vet will clean Sophie’s ears. Because that will be painful, the vet will likely sedate or anesthetize her. Next, he’ll prescribe medications for her specific ailment, often placing the drops or ointment directly into her ears. Make sure you finish the entire course of medication, even if Sophie’s ear problems seem to have vanished.

 

Minimize Sophie’s future ear problems by cleaning her ears with a vet-recommended solution. Resolve skin problems quickly before they can affect her ears, and check often for foreign objects such as dirt or debris. This regular maintenance will alert you to developing problems before they get out of hand.

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