Pain, Itch and Odor Come with a Dog Ear Yeast Infection

A dog ear yeast infection is a truly uncomfortable experience for your dog. Dogs with heavy floppy ears, dogs with lots of hair inside their ears, and dogs with allergies are most at risk for developing these infections.

Breeds that commonly have problems with recurrent infections include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, and Cocker Spaniels. These breeds all have heavy floppy ears.

Poodles (all sizes), Bichon Frises and Shi Tzus are examples of breeds with excess hair inside of their ears, that can often be associated with a canine ear infection.

Those breeds that have problems with allergies will also often have dog ear problems. Breeds like Cocker Spaniels (again), West Highland White Terrier, Golden Retrievers (again), and Bulldogs are prone to ear issues, because of the allergies they are also prone to. (Did you know that overweight dogs are more prone to skin problems in general than lean dogs?)

What Causes a Dog Ear Yeast Infection?

Any conditions that improve the environment for the yeast will lead to yeast infections. Yeast like warm, dark, moist areas. Like ears - especially those with decreased air exposure. Those dogs with heavy floppy ears and those breed with lots of hair in their ears are naturally more prone to the problem. Dogs with allergies have a decreased ability to deal with their natural yeast "load", and so their yeast get out of control.

Anything that allows extra moisture to accumulate in the ears will improve the environment for yeast. Dogs that swim a lot will have more difficulty with yeast infections, as will those who are frequently bathed and get water down their ears.

What Does a Dog Ear Yeast Infection Look Like?

Well, to an owner it looks like a red, itchy and sometimes painful ear or ears. The dog may tilt his/her head to one side,may be scratching frequently at the ears, sometimes gently and with vocalization (this = pain), or may be shaking their head a lot, or more than normal. There is also a bad odor to an ear infection, whether the infection is caused by yeast, or by bacteria. And often there is visible debris (goo) in the ear entrance.

Dog Ear Yeast Infection, Microscopic view

To your vet, it looks like this.

Is a Red Itchy Ear Always Going to be a Dog Ear Yeast Infection?

No, nothing is ever that easy. These same signs, or symptoms, can also be a result of

Dog Ear Yeast Infection, Bacteria and Yeast

a bacterial infection, mixed with yeast, or

Ear Mites  can cause a Dog Ear Infection

an ear mite infestation,

or a foreign body down in the ear, like a grass seed head (often called a "grass awn"), or a tumor inside the ear canal, or an infection deep in the middle ear where it's not even visible.

What Can I Do About It?

Go to your vet, and get an accurate diagnosis as to the cause! Treatment will likely consist of an appropriate medication (possibly an ear ointment, possibly a pill, possibly both), and a cleaner. Visit our

Pet Health Store

for many non-prescription ear products. Go to Dog, then Ear.

I very frequently flush these ears out during the exam visit. Most of the time this can be done awake, although every now and then one is painful enough, or the dog is mis-behaved enough, that heavy sedation is needed. Flushing the ear out removes a great deal of the debris and allows the ointment to work better.

In addition to treating the ear infection, sometimes treatment for allergies helps quite a lot. Sometimes your vet will recommend a blood test for hypothyroidism . If this is diagnosed, treatment will greatly improve overall skin health.

Don't let a dog ear yeast infection get the best of you or your dog - get it taken care of for your dog, and you'll feel better too!

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Page last updated 6/17/15.


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