SmartVets Animal Hospital

Phone: 07-5715003 

511 Cameron Road, Tauranga, (Between 10th &11th Ave)

Ear infections 
Ear infections are common problems in dogs and cats. In general dogs get ear infections more often than cats. Ear infections can be a cause of serious discomfort and pain to your pets and if left untreated lead to permanent damages to the ear and deafness. A number of factors contribute to ear infections in dogs and cats.

Causes of ear infection
Bacteria and fungi

Bacterial and fungal infections (yeast) are often the most common causes of ear infections. While bacterial infections may be a primary or secondary cause of ear infection, yeast infections often result as a secondary infection. Common examples of bacteria causing ear infection are Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas. A common example of a yeast causing ear infection is Malassezia. 
Ear mites

Otodectes cynotis is the most common ear mite of dogs and cats. Compared to dogs, cats are more commonly affected. Transmission occurs through casual contact at home or outside. This mite feeds on the oils and wax in your pet’s ear canal. Due to its miniature size, it is barely visible to the naked eyes. Ear mites can infect both the internal and external canals of the ears. Infection is often characterized by a dark coffee like discharge from the ear that can result in complete obstruction of the ear canal.
Foreign bodies

Bits of grasses, thorns and other plants inside your pet’s ears can lead to ear infections.

Dogs prone to allergies are susceptible to ear conditions. If the underlying cause of ear problem in your dog is allergy, just treating the ear infections won’t resolve the problem.  

Diseases such as feline AIDS
Breed and ear shape/anatomy

Dog breeds with non-erect ears (e.g. Hounds  Spaniels, Beagles, spaniels, retrievers) and those with hairy inner ear flaps/ear canals (e.g. Poodles) are more susceptible to ear infections.  Ear environment in these breeds suffer poor air circulation, retention of moisture and trap allergens from the environment more easily.  Often the moist warm ear environment is favorable for organism causing infections to flourish. 

Types of ear infection

Inflammation or infection of the ear is called otitis. Depending upon the parts of the ear where it occurs, ear infection can be of the following three types.

  • otitis externa:  inflammation of the external ear canal 
  • otitis media: inflammation of the middle ear structures
  • otitis interna: inflammation of the innermost ear structures 


  • Redness, swelling and pain in the ear
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at the external ear flaps or areas around the ear
  • Smelly ear
  • Discharges form the ear
  • Obstruction of ear canal
  • Anorexia
  • Elevated temperature
  • Loss of balance
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Deafness

Preventative measures for ear infection

Ear conditions generally have an underlying cause and the problem often reoccurs if treatment is done only for the ear inflammation and infection.  Some preventative measures for ear infections in pets include:

  • Inspecting your pet’s ears regularly for abnormal discharge, odour and/or redness
  • Checking any changes in skin colour or conditions
  • Drying your pet’s  ears thoroughly (particularly dog’s) thoroughly after baths and swimming
  • Cleaning the outer ear of your pets regularly. Excessive hair in the outer canal of the ear can be removed. However, before you attempt to clean or remove hair from your pet’s ear, make sure to consult your veterinarian first for the right techniques.
  • Keeping your pets free of parasites like ear mites and fleas.

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