I was asked this question by a neighbor the other day. The quick answer is, maybe. Not what he wanted to hear. Sigh.
We researched Otitis extensively. Medically speaking, it seems that a bunch of things were thrown into “Otitis Bucket” making it difficult to pin-point an exact answer.
So what’s in the Bucket? Pretty much anything and everything relating to an ear infection.
Simply put, Otitis is generally called Otitis Externa in in medical circles. That is most generally what we are discussing in terms of dogs. Otitis Externa is the most common reason small animals are taken to the veterinarian. There is a pretty good “general” movie about Otitis here.
Even Healthy Dogs Need Their Ears Cleaned.
The symptoms are shaking the head, excessive scratching, rubbing the ears on furniture or the floor, tenderness, pain, stinky ear odor, oozing, crusty or scabby material, redness, swelling, etc. Usually, it is pretty apparent when Otitis is present. A trip to your veterinarian is recommended for diagnosis.
One of the reasons dogs are susceptible is the way their ears are structured. Unlike humans that have a horizontal ear canal, dogs have a vertical, then horizontal canal, which makes it easier for foreign matter to enter and stay low near the ear drum. The horizontal canal is somewhat shielded from air and in some cases, excessive hair inside the ear provides a warm, moist environment for germs, yeast and bacteria to grow.
The causes of ear infections are many. The most common are allergies, hypothyroidism, genetic factors and foreign bodies. The first three described aren’t going to resolve themselves by treating the symptoms. A course of treatment will come from your vet. By the way, many dog allergies affect their skin; anywhere on their body.
Ear infections from foreign bodies are most commonly caused by bacteria or yeast and ear mites. Once infected, the veterinarian will prescribe treatment aimed at the particular cause. That’s why there are so many different “medicated” ear cleaners and shampoos on the market. They are designed to treat specific problems. You don’t necessarily want to continue using those products at the conclusion of the treatment because the dog could build up a resistance to the medication that will prevent it from working at a later time.
Ear mites primarily come from outdoor cats. They are passed on to dogs through contact. Contact with infested dogs can infest your dog. (Personally, this is one of the reasons I avoid dog parks.) This condition can generally be prevented by cleaning your dog’s ears at least weekly, with a quality dog ear cleaner like BVH Pet Care Premium Dog Ear Cleaner.
Bacteria and yeast can be similarly prevented in many cases by routine cleaning with a non-medicated dog ear cleaner. It would be best to avoid cleaners with oatmeal and sugars that actually feed the bacteria and yeast.
I know. Oatmeal in dog shampoo and cleaners are all the “rage”, with movies on YouTube and hundreds of articles on the Internet about how to make your own oatmeal shampoo. The truth is that yeast loves to feed on oatmeal. Yeast infections on dogs are very common. It is worth the risk?
Another important time to use a non-medicated ear cleaner (see Prevention at the bottom of the link) is after a bath, after swimming in a pool or pond, a romp in the woods, and any time your notice dirt or wax build-up in your dog’s ears. Oh yeah, and when their ears start to smell like anything other than a dog. Once per week can go a long way to reduce the likelihood of Otitis Externa occurring.
A few more tips
- Breeds with floppy ears are more prone to ear problems because their ear canals are more likely to be warm and moist. They need to be inspected and cleaned more often.
- Many breeds tend to have a lot of hair at the opening of the ear canal and extending downward. Every article I researched said the hair should be trimmed or “plucked”. There is a BIG controversy about plucking and various plucking methods. For sure, see your vet about this. See the Maintenance Care paragraph here.
- Don’t push a cotton swap on a stick down your dog’s ear canal. At worst, you could end up at the doggy ER. At the least you could be “compacting whatever", down further in the canal. Use a cotton ball and let the dog do some of the work by shaking the head.
- Don’t use medicated ear cleaner for routine cleaning. Medicated ear cleaners are for specific forms of treatment. You don’t want to risk building an immunity when not necessary.
- Dogs tend to show allergy symptoms through their skin, unlike humans who display many symptoms through sinus, eyes and respiratory distress. I know dogs can cough and wheeze, and human can have a rash. But that is why we pay close attention to a dog’s skin and use pH balanced pet care products. Do you remember the saying, “Prevention is the Best Medicine”? I have no idea who to cite for that, but I remember it was a big part of somebody’s ad campaign back in the day. Prevention is what BVH Premium Dog Ear Cleaner is working to accomplish.