Why does my dog get ear infections? 🐶
Excellent hearing is one of your dog’s super senses, as they hear frequencies much higher and lower than we can. Dog’s ears are however, prone to problems and are a big reason for vet visits. Ear infections are an all-too-common health issue for dogs, and if you or your furry friend has experienced one, you know that they can be quite painful. If your dog has chronic or recurring ear infections, it could be a sign that something else is going on. While many ear infections are linked to food intolerances, it’s reassuring to know that they may be prevented by modifying your dog’s diet.
What are ear infections?
An outer ear infection, or otitis externa, occurs in the external portion of the ear canal, and is one of the most common infections seen in dogs. Although any breed of dog can experience ear infections, Cocker Spaniels, Old English Sheepdogs and other pups with beautiful big, floppy or fluffy ears are particularly susceptible.
- Scratching at ears or rubbing ears on the floor
- Shaking or tilting head
- Blackish/yellow discharge
- Redness or scaly skin
- Hearing loss
- Swelling around the ear
If your dog has any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your vet as untreated ear infections can seriously affect their health.
What causes dog ear infections?
- Allergies and food intolerances are the most common cause, with half of dogs with canine atopic dermatitis from allergies and 80% with food sensitivities, developing ear infections.
- There is also a link between chronic ear infections and low thyroid function, referred to as hypothyroidism.
- Foreign bodies, parasites, moisture, excessive cleaning or excess wax production might also be to blame for your dog’s ear infection.
How are dog ear infections diagnosed and treated?
If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, remember to see your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will examine their ears and remove any foreign bodies or wax buildup. To help determine the best course of treatment, your vet might also take a swab and examine it under a microscope. If your dog has chronic ear infections, they may send the sample to a pathology lab for further testing to help identify any underlying issues.
Once diagnosed, ear infections can be treated successfully but, if left untreated, deep ear infections may cause the eardrum to rupture, which can lead to an internal ear infection or permanent hearing loss. Because dogs with ear infections are constantly scratching and shaking their head to alleviate the pain, they can develop a condition called an ‘aural hematoma’ where the blood vessels in the ear break, causing a painful swelling that requires surgery.
How can your dog’s diet help?
If your vet suspects that a specific food ingredient is linked to your dog’s ear symptoms, they may recommend trying an elimination diet to help identify the culprit. Studies have shown that some commercial food contains ingredients that are actually different to what’s written on the label – either missing ingredients or containing proteins or other ingredients that aren’t disclosed. Because you can’t be sure exactly what’s hiding in commercial dog food, and because the Australian pet food industry is largely unregulated, it’s incredibly difficult to know if the food has an ingredient that your dog is allergic to.
Beyond avoiding food allergens, there are also certain ingredients you can feed your pup that actually work to optimise ear health. The ear is just a specialised type of skin, so food packed with nutrients like Omega 3 fatty acids are great for keeping your dog’s ears healthy.
What type of dog food is great for dog ear infections
A healthy diet mixed with healthy dog food will help reduce your dog getting ear infections. It is recommended food that does not contain any common allergens like wheat, dairy or soy. A good example is the dog food ingredients at Lyka Pet Food, where they only use human-grade ingredients, offering a fresh, lightly cooked diet. Their meats and vegetables are prepared the same way we would cook our own food, and seeds, oils, herbs and other ingredients are added raw. Raw meat poses food safety risks, such as potential contamination through pathogens and bacteria. These ingredients will reduce any chance of ear infections for your dog. You can view their recipes here, so you can be confident what ingredients are in your dog’s food.
Dog food that offers a mix of optimal health benefits + tastebud tingles
Enjoy 20% off your first Lyka Pet Food box today!
Lyka pet foods use high-quality protein in their recipes, using only free-range chicken and eggs and grass-fed beef and lamb – Lyka’s recipes have all been designed by in-house vet Dr Matthew Muir.