Dealing With Canker of the Ears in Dogs
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Dealing With Canker of the Ears in Dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Canker of the ears is a nasty condition that causes a dog lots of discomfort. Outer ear inflammation or otitis externa can be a really serious problem with some dogs suffer from milder forms of the condition whereas others are affected a lot more. Canker can be caused by a few different things which includes breed and conformation. Dogs with droopy ears and narrow ear canals are more likely to suffer from the condition, especially if their canals are hairy because it affects the humidity and temperature within the ear.

Dogs that love to swim often have moisture in their ear canals which means they are more prone to suffering from the condition. However, if you have two dogs and they constantly lick each others ears, this too can trigger external ear irritation in the form of canker. If your dog has a build up of wax in their ears, this needs to be removed, but very carefully and only using products that are recommended by a vet. A dog with a severe build up of wax would need to see the vet to have their ears treated. Failing to take care of the problem may well result in your dog suffering from canker further down the line.

Bacteria in the Ear Canal

All dogs have bacteria in their ear canals albeit in low to moderate quantities and as such it's not thought that bacteria as such triggers canker. However, should the number of bacteria multiply, then it could be cause for concern and an infection will set in. The condition would need to be treated and brought under control. The same can be said of any yeast or fungal infections in a dog's ear canal, mixed bacterial and yeast infection are quite commonly seen in dogs too.

Ear Mites Are a Commonly Found

Ear mites are frequently found when canker is diagnosed in dogs, these minute parasites feed on blood and can only really be spotted when using a specifically designed instrument called an otoscope.

Ear Tumours Can be the Cause

A tumour in a dog's ear can cause canker and although many of them are relatively benign, you would need to get a correct diagnosis because other tumours are malignant. A vet would be able to carry out a biopsy to determine whether the tumour is benign or malignant and then recommend a treatment.

Foreign Bodies Can Cause Irritation

Dogs that are allowed to run around in woods, in the countryside and dogs that frequently go swimming, tend to get foreign bodies in their ears which can cause irritation, this results in an outer ear infection. Again, a quick visit to the vet would be the best course of action so a treatment can be started sooner rather than later.

Food & Other Allergies

Dogs can be affected by allergies bought on by certain foods or any natural pollens as well as house dust and mould. Cases of chronic otitis externa are often triggered by this type of allergy which a vet would have to test and find out just what the root cause of the condition actually is. They would then be able to eliminate it and recommend a treatment.

Certain Breeds Are More Prone to Get Canker

There are certain breeds that are more predisposed to canker but age too can play a role in causing the condition. Dogs prone to suffer from outer ear inflammation include the following:

  • West Highland Terriers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers

With this said any breed of dog can be affected by canker with the symptoms usually becoming apparent when they are anything between one and four years old.

Signs To Watch Out For

Dogs with the condition tend to shake their heads excessively and this is the first sign there would be something wrong. Other signs to watch out for include the following:

  • Head tilt
  • Scratching ears until they are very sore
  • An unpleasant smell from the ear
  • Painful, red and inflamed ears
  • A nasty smelling discharge from ears

Occasionally a dog's whole body will smell if other parts of their body's have been affected other than the ear canal. If the problem is just an excessive amount of ear wax, there might be a thick, black and nasty smelling discharge from your dog's ears – sometimes this may contain pus. The vet would need to examine their ears with an otoscope before recommending an antibiotic treatment. However, they may also want to take some swabs for analysis to eliminate or confirm the presence of bacteria or yeast in present and to determine which bacteria it is.

Treating Canker

Treating some out ear infections is pretty straight forward. If there's a foreign body in the ear, removing it and then applying an antibacterial or anti-fungal product usually clears the problem up pretty quickly. However, if your dog is suffering from an allergy which is the root cause of their out ear inflammation, it is more difficult to find what's causing the problem and several tests would need to be done to eliminate things before finding out what is causing the condition.

In some instances, a vet would need to carry out surgery on the ear to remove a growth. However, if the ear canal is very swollen and inflamed, this can cause the canal wall to become very thick which causes more problems. A vet would need to conduct a thorough examination and then decide on what course of action to take with each case being considered as unique.

What Happens if the Condition Flares Up Again?

Once a dog has been treated for canker, they may suffer another flare up further down the line. However, because the cause can be many things, it would be wrong to think the “flare up” was the result of the same thing a second time. Therefore, it is much better to take a dog back to the vet so they can be re-examined you pet, make a correct diagnosis followed by the right treatment so the condition clears up quickly.

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