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Q&A’s To Ear Infections

Here are a few Q&A’s from Dr. Oldenhoff in regards to ear infections How often should I clean my dog’s ears, and with what ear cleaner? The simplest answer is that you should clean your dog’s ears as often as they need it! For most normal dogs, only occasional ear cleaning is needed. As discussed above, dogs with chronic otitis often need frequent ear cleaning to prevent infection even when their ears are doing well. These dogs often require specific medicated cleansers to prevent infection. As always, your vet is the best resource to recommend ear cleaners for your pet. Dog owners should not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or essential oils in their pet’s ears as these can be highly irritating to the ear canal lining. Does swimming cause ear infections? Although swimming can contribute to a dog developing an ear infection, there must be other abnormalities present to allow infection to develop. Studies have been done where pure bacterial culture was literally poured into the ear canals of normal dogs. These normal dogs did not develop ear infections! Thus, if your dog develops otitis after swimming, you should discuss underlying causes and treatment options with your veterinarian. How often should I have my dog’s ear hairs plucked out? Some dogs have a large amount of hair in their ear canals that can trap debris and moisture, leading to ear infection. This is especially common in poodles and poodle mixes (Labradoodles, golden-doodles, etc). In these dogs, plucking is very important to prevent ear infection. Frequency of plucking should be tailored to the individual pet, as some dogs have more hair than others. Plucking the hairs can sometimes cause irritation of the canal, and can contribute to development of otitis. If you find that your pet’s ears seem painful after being groomed, have them examined by your veterinarian. Your vet may recommend cleaners or drops for you to use after having your dog’s ears plucked. Can I feed my dog anything to prevent ear infections? Some dogs will develop ear infections secondary to food allergies. Your veterinarian may recommend a special prescription diet to help determine if food allergies are contributing. Grain-free diets have recently become very popular and are often touted as a cure for many common diseases of pets, including ear infections. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support these claims. When dogs become allergic to components of their food, it is almost always to a protein (most often beef, dairy or chicken) rather than grain. Additionally, food allergies cannot be ruled out by switching from one store brand to another; save yourself some headache and discuss diets with your veterinarian. If your pet suffers from chronic ear infections, discuss options with your veterinarian. Ear infections can be a significant cause of pain and can affect our relationship with our furry friends. Long-term success requires a strong commitment, but your dog will thank you!