Have you noticed your pet constantly shaking or tilting their head? Are they acting head-shy? Or, you may have found them rubbing their head on you, the furniture or the floor a lot lately. Is their behavior erratic? Are they walking with an unsteady gait? Do they seem feverish, lethargic or unusually restless? Is that incessant scratching of their ears driving both of you nuts? Maybe it's the strange eye movements you've noticed in the past few days?
Odds are, your puppy or dog has an ear infection. It could be acute, or it can become a chronic problem. Either way, you need to know what to do and when to get to your veterinarian.
Ear infections are rooted by a number of causes. Most commonly they are ear mites, flea bites, allergies to food, pollen, mold, or dust mites, bites, lacerations, obstruction by a foreign object, suppressed immune system, poor hygiene, puppy strangles, unsanitary living conditions, trauma, i.e. aural hematoma, tumors and cross-contamination from other dogs.
Be aware, some ear infections are contagious, so caution should be taken if you have other pets or if your dog socializes with other dogs.
Ear infections can also be inherent such as those some Schnauzers and Miniature Poodles are prone to get.
Sports and Hunting breeds with their long, floppy ears, like the Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound, Labrador and Golden Retrievers are also often prone to ear infections, as they host a warm, moist, dark space for bacteria, yeast and fungus to blossom!
Every now and then, flip their ears up, to give them a chance to breathe and air-out.
As most ear infections are bacterial, yeast or fungus based, they need to be treated accordingly.
Some owners have found a mix of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water once a week helps to keep yeast infections in check. If your dog won't drink it as a "cocktail," add it to their food or put it in their water bowl. Vinegars are acidic and yeast abhors acids.
More than a few owners regularly clean their dog's ears with cotton balls dipped in white vinegar, to prevent ear infections and to keep their dogs ears smelling clean.
If proper care is taken, such as trimming or plucking the hairs inside your dog's ears, thoroughly cleaning and drying them after swimming or bathing, plus, keeping them clean by removing the ear wax regularly, you may be able to prevent the problem from becoming serious or chronic.
If your dog's infection is serious, get them to your veterinarian before the situation requires surgery. They may need to be put on an anti-biotic, anti-microb, or anti-fungal medication treatments for a few weeks.
Complications from ear infections can become severe. They include facial nerve damage, and brain damage, which could result in death.
Bottom line: Check your dog's ears. Make it a part of your routine canine hygiene program. Air them out! Take preventative precautions such as regular cleaning, trimming, drying and wax removal. It could save you and your pet a lot of unnecessary stress and discomfort.