Ear Infections in Pets

Ear Infections in Pets

Otitis interna refers to an inflammation of a pet’s inner ear, while otitis media refers to an inflammation of a pet’s middle ear—both of these conditions are caused by bacterial infection.

For dogs, long-eared breeds with excessive hair and non-erect outer ears are believed to be more susceptible to canine ear infections. These breeds include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers and Springer Spaniels.

What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infections in Pets?

Symptoms of otitis media or interna heavily depend on how extensive and severe the infection is. Signs may include no visible symptoms whatsoever, to apparent nervous system involvement. When symptoms do appear, they may include:

• Pain when a pet opens their mouth
• Hesitancy in chewing
• Shaking their head
• Pawing at their affected ear
• Tilting their head
• Leaning to the side of their affected ear
• Altered sense of balance

If both of your pet’s ears are affected by inflammation, additional symptoms may include wobbly uncoordinated body movement, deafness and wide-swinging movements of the head.

Additional symptoms may include:

• Vomiting
• Nausea
• Redness of the ears
• Unequally sized pupils
• Ear discharge
• Gray bulging eardrum
• Nervous system damage including facial nerve damage (for severe cases)

What Are the Causes of Ear Infections in Pets?

Primary causes of ear infections are bacteria—other possible disease-causing agents include yeasts, fungi and ear mites, which increase the likelihood of bacterial infection. Additional causes include bodily trauma, tumors or polyps in the ear or the presence of foreign bodies in the ear.

How Are Ear Infections in Pets Treated?

Severe and debilitating ear infections may cause your pet to be kept in the hospital for treatment. They will also need to be assessed for possible neurologic symptoms. For stable patients, they can be treated at home, usually with medications.

Most bacterial infections will resolve with early aggressive antibiotic therapy, and they will not recur. If there are recurrent ear infections however, surgical drainage may be necessary.

How Can Ear Infections in Pets Be Prevented?

To reduce the changes of infection, routine ear cleaning is recommended. Please note: frequent and overly vigorous ear washes may be damaging to the ear canal.


If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms or you have further questions about this condition, please contact us at 907-479-0001.