Canine Ear Health Guide

The Anatomy of the Canine Ear

The literal shape or anatomy of canine ears make them prone to bacteria, parasite and yeast infections. The ear canal of your average dog is very different anatomically speaking to the human ear. Unlike our ears, dogs’ ears feature two separate internal sections which are placed at a 90° angle, and they also have the exterior part of the ear, which you can see if you fold back the earflap. Most breeds of dog also have a longer ear canal than us humans.

Dog also have earflaps, which often fold down over the ear canal, meaning that air cannot circulate. This makes the ear canal moist, warm and prone to infection. Dogs with long ears (e.g. Basset Hounds and Spaniels) in particular are more prone to problems.

Symptoms of Canine Ear Infections

  • Ear discharge
  • A bad smell emitting from the ear canal
  • Swelling
  • Crusty skin
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Black or dark brown earwax or dust
  • Thickening of the skin on the ears
  • Skin redness or sores
  • Signs of pain when touched
  • Constantly tilts head to one side

If you notice any of these while grooming, you should advise your client to visit their vet at the nearest opportunity.

Key Causes of Ear Problems in Dogs

  • Ear mites.  Signs of ear mites are typically dark coloured dust or spots that look like coffee grounds inside the ears. Ear mites are parasites that spread through contact with other affected animals. Try Thornit Ear Powder as a deterrent.
  • Foreign bodies. Items such as grass seeds can occasionally lodge themselves inside the ear canal, causing pain and/or inflammation. Such items will need removing by a vet.
  • Yeast infections. The microorganisms that cause yeast infections fester in warm, damp and dark conditions, e.g. canine ear canals. If your client has a yeast infection, (easily identified as the ears will be smelly), a vet will need to determine this issue and will proscribe a suitable treatment.
  • Allergic reactions. With dogs, many ear problems are actually rooted in pre-existing skin conditions and allergies. Dogs prone to itchy skin or hot spots also commonly suffer from ear problems. Dogs can also suffer from allergic reactions to parasites such as ear mites and mange. If this is the case, it is important to clean the dog’s ears with gentle products designed specifically for the ear.
  • Excess hair in the ear canal. The excess ear hair that some breeds experience can cause irritation and problems with airflow, making the dog more prone to infections and parasites. You should pluck out the hair with tweezers, along with some plucking powder to absorb any moisture.

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