If you are a pet parent, chances are you have had to help a pet through a painful infection. While ear infections are treatable, what causes them, and why do they come back? 

What Causes Ear Infections in Pets?

Unlike their human companions, pets (more so dogs) have an L-shaped ear canal that can trap and hold moisture. The L- shape makes pets very susceptible to ear infections. Bacteria, yeast or both typically cause ear infections.


Factors that can lead to an ear infection

  • Moisture (creates a growing environment for bacteria & yeast)
  • Allergies
  • Wax buildup
  • Foreign bodies
  • Injury to the ear canal 

Symptoms of Ear Infections in Pets

While not all pets will show symptoms, there are physical ways to determine if your pet may have an ear infection.

  • Head shaking
  • Excessive scratching of the ear
  • Dark discharge
  • Odor
  • Redness & swelling of the ear canal
  • Pain/discomfort
  • Itchiness
  • Scabbing in or around the ear
  • One ear hanging lower than the other

Treating Ear Infections in Pets

A veterinarian will clean your pet's ear using a medicated ear cleanser. Your veterinarian may also suggest a medicated ear flush to use at home until the infection clears up. In severe cases, your pet may be prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

How to Prevent Ear Infections in Pets

While some breeds are prone to ear infections, there are a few measures you as a pet parent can take to lower the chances of your pet getting an ear infection. 

  • Ensure the ear canal is completely dry after baths, swimming, ear cleanings, or being in the rain.
  • Regular ear cleaning can lower the number of bacteria and yeast in the ear canal and minimize the chances of an ear infection developing. 

While recurring ear infections in pets can seem like an uphill battle, with your veterinarian’s help you can help your pet feel their best at all times!