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Otitis in dogs - Diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Otitis en perros - Diagnostico, tratamiento y prevención

Lobo Azul |

Otitis in dogs is a fairly common disease. It can occur in any dog ​​throughout its life , although the truth is that there are some breeds more prone than others and environmental conditions also have a significant influence.

Causes of otitis in dogs

There are several causes that can cause this inflammation in the ear of dogs, starting with the animal producing a lot of wax or having too much hair inside the ears (a combination of both also produces otitis).

It also occurs if a foreign object is introduced , which is common in dogs that go out into the field often, although it can also occur if we use cotton swabs when cleaning their ears.

Mites are other culprits, as well as allergic reactions. Otitis in dogs can also develop due to tumors in the ear, due to hormonal changes or because the animal produces a lot of keratin.

Even the breed can predispose a dog to have otitis, as is the case of those with large, floppy ears , such as cockers , bassets and hounds in general.

Finally, a humid environment helps dogs suffer from this infection from time to time, which does not happen as often if they live in dry climates.

How do I know if my dog ​​has otitis?

There is no better way to know if a dog has otitis than by going to the vet, although we will see that the animal behaves in a strange way, as if it had pain in the upper area of ​​its head.


Although we have to go to the veterinarian, who will make the diagnosis through a series of very simple tests, the truth is that otitis in dogs is very easy to detect because it has characteristic symptoms.

The dog walks with its head tilted

One of the most characteristic signs is that the animal begins to walk with its head tilted , which catches our attention and makes us immediately alert.

The side towards which you place your head indicates the ear in which you have the otitis, because although it can occur in both, the normal thing is that the disease only occurs in one of them, or at least that it does not appear in the two at a time.

Bad smell in the ear

Another symptom of otitis is a bad odor inside the ear. The smell is quite nauseating. It reaches us when it is close to us and places our ear near our nose, or when we are grooming it.

This bad odor is usually accompanied by yellow or green secretions, which are another indication that there is an infection.

The animal does not stop shaking its head

If the dog has otitis, it will have pain, which it tries to relieve by shaking its head very often , especially on the side of the ear where the infection is. This symptom is usually accompanied by the first one we have seen, having the head tilted to one side.

Pain in the ear when touched and may even stop eating

When the pain is not as severe, there may be no visible symptoms. However, if we touch it, it complains when we put our hand near its ear and may even stop eating due to the discomfort caused by the movement of its jaws.

Loss of balance and deafness

Luckily, severe otitis in dogs is not common, but if it occurs (it is more serious the further it gets into the ear) the symptoms go further and can cause the dog to fall .

As in humans, the balance organ is in the ear, so when it is affected the dog is not able to stand.

Deafness is also another of the complications of severe otitis in dogs, something that we notice if we call it and it does not come (before it always did) or in sudden reactions when we touch it, there is a very loud noise, etc.


The diagnosis is very simple for a professional, who just by seeing the symptoms that the dog has as soon as he walks through the door of the clinic, he will know what is happening to him.

The first thing you will do, even if you already suspect that there is otitis, is to check the ear in order to check if there is a bad smell, if there are secretions and what color they are , since this will guide you on the type of bacteria that caused it. .

You can take a sample in order to look at it under a microscope, thus ensuring the diagnosis and advising the best treatment.

You will also use the otoscope, although the truth is that if the dog is in pain it will not be easy, although it is possible to use local anesthesia in order to facilitate the task.

This is done to see the damage in the ear, in order to verify how far the infection has reached, and especially to ensure that there are no foreign bodies that are to blame for causing the otitis.

In the event that there is something inside the ear, such as a piece of branch, if it is not removed, the medications will be of little use, since the otitis will continue its course.


The treatment is usually quite simple and almost always consists of broad-spectrum antibiotic ear drops , which fight the bacteria that cause otitis.

In turn, the veterinarian usually cleans the ear and will tell us how to do it in order to remove the wax, as well as the secretions. The reason is that although the drops work in dirty ears, they do better if the inside of the ear is clean.

When there is pain, which is noticeable because the dog shakes its head a lot or scratches, you can also administer some medication to alleviate it. They almost always give him the first dose, so he acts immediately, and then they can prescribe us some pills.

Cases of severe otitis in dogs are less common, but if we are unlucky enough that our dog suffers from it (a good way to avoid it is to go to the vet at the first symptom) the treatment usually consists of an operation to fix the damage caused. for the infection.


Otitis can be prevented in most cases by following a series of guidelines that are quite simple.

With regular cleaning we will avoid a good part of infections . It can be done a couple of times a week and we only need some gauze and saline solution, although we can also buy a specific product.

Another way to avoid infections is to shave the hair inside the ear. We can do it with a clipper for dogs, with one for people with a narrow comb or with scissors, thus preventing the wax from having places to accumulate.

Checking the ears when we come from outside also helps a lot , since this way we will see if there are objects inside that are going to cause otitis in dogs with complete safety.

If we see a branch, a leaf, etc., and we cannot remove it, we will go to the vet immediately. Thus, we will ensure that the infection does not occur.

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