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Ear Infection in Dogs

Leo had his very first ear infection last week and I realized how little I knew about treating it. Me being me, I went online and to our veterinary doctor to gather all the information I needed. I’m writing this post to share my findings and hope that my readers find it helpful.

Ear infections are apparently common in closed ear dogs who are active and outdoors a lot. Signs of ear infection are scratching at or behind the ears, shaking the head more frequently or rigorously and red or swollen insides.

ear infection

Since I was on vacation for 15 days without Leo, I’m not sure when or how he contracted the ear infection but I knew that he needed medical care because he exhibited all the above symptoms. The poor thing could be in a lot of pain. Leo also had patches of dry blood and a slimy wax-like substance combined with an abnormal odor. I cleaned his ears like I usually do – by using MicrocynAH Ear Wash but the symptoms came back in a few hours. I was sure that my pooch had an ear infection.

My initial thought was to try some home remedies since my vet’s office wasn’t open yet. However, I learnt that ear infections can be caused due to bacteria, yeast or ear mites and only a doctor can test and know what the root cause is. I rushed Leo to our doctor at Tama Veterinary Hospital in Milpitas, California as soon as they opened shop. Luckily, the attendant was able to squeeze him in on the same day. Our vet did a ear smear cytology to study the infected cells under a microscope and found that the ear infection was bacterial. Now she was ready to treat it.

Step 1:

A Dex SP (dexamethasone sodium phosphate) injection was given to reduce the effects of the ear infection. When administered properly, it is a safe and effective way of treating such infections in animals and humans. As pet owners, we always want to know if medicines have side effects so talk to your doctor and get all the information you need about this drug.


Step 2:

The doctor also wanted to clean the outside of Leo’s ears and asked me to come back in an hour so that they could take their time and get the job done.

Step 3:ear infection

Once Leo was ready to go home, the vet gave me an ear solution and ointment to use for the next couple of days. Dechra Epiklean Ear Cleanser was recommended to clean and dry out Leo’s ears. It can be used regularly to avoid future ear infections and irritations so this is a keeper for every dog owner. The best way to use it is to pour a generous amount onto a cotton ball and squeeze it into your dog’s ear. Massage the base of the ear and allow him or her to shake off the excess fluid. Wipe the outer ear dry with a fresh cotton ball.

Step 4:

ear infectionOnce this is done, I was asked to put 3 drops of Otomax Otibiotic Ointment which is used to treat bacterial infections in animals. The gel can be squirted directed into your dog’s ears once they are clean and clear of debris. It is important to rub it into the ear by gently massaging the ear canal from the outside.

The combination of the above two medicines can be used twice a day (or as recommended by your doctor) to curb the ear infection and your dog should be fine within a week.

Veterinarians also recommend sedating your dog to flush out their inner ears. You can do this if you have a dog that won’t let you put things into its ears. I wasn’t comfortable with sedating Leo. Instead I brought him home and tricked him to administer the medicines.

Firstly, I let Leo sniff the medicine bottles so that he would become familiar with the new smells. Secondly, I distracted him with his favorite squeaky toy and made him go to the ‘down’ position. Next, I moved his ears up, found the ear canal and quickly administered the medicine. Leo was slightly irritated as expected but I calmed him with my other hand by gently stroking his back. Finally, I gave him a treat once I was done so that he would associate it with something pleasant. After repeating this 2-3 times, he was more comfortable with the whole process. You can try this too and avoid huge vet bills by unnecessarily sedating your dog.

There you go! That’s all I did.

Could I have prevented this ear infection? Maybe not! Leo is always exposed to microorganisms because he enjoys lakes, parks and hikes. I can’t keep him indoors and protected all the time. What I could have done is detect it earlier if I wasn’t on vacation.

We often ignore teeth, ears and eyes when we wash and groom our dogs but these are equally important. Clean them regularly to avoid infections and irritations in the future.

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