Ear infection epidemic in dogs

Dogs that swim a lot are more prone to ear infections

Ear infections are amongst the most common skin problems we face as veterinarians in day to day practice. There isn’t a day that goes by where a pet owner doesn’t present a dog to us with signs of ear inflammation and infection. Common signs of an ear infection include a waxy ear with discharge from brown to a more pus-like yellow and green. Usually there is also an unpleasant odor along with redness of the ear flaps. Many dogs will shake their head frequently and/or scratch or rub excessively at the affected ears. The problem can be seen in one or both ears, and in many pets other signs of skin disease can be present. These signs may include excessive feet licking, trunk itching, hot spots, and various skin eruptions.

Ear inflammation and infections can be caused by foreign materials getting into the ears or excessive moisture, as seen in dogs that swim a lot. Ear infections are most commonly caused by a pet having an allergic reaction to inhalants or coming into contact with something, or hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism in dogs. Those pets with long floppy ears such as Cocker Spaniels and other breeds with similar anatomy can often perpetuate these primary causes because of inadequate air or ventilation to the ear canals.

If pets suffer from chronic ear inflammations/infections over time, the external canals will often become thick with scar tissue, and/or the problem can spread to the middle or inner ear causing hearing difficulties and deafness. In advanced cases, even surgery of the ear canals is sometimes needed. Although prescription ear medications may help the infection over a short period, the problem will likely recur again leading to increased patient discomfort and guardian dissatisfaction. That’s why it’s so important to address with your veterinarian the underlying causes of an ear infection before such severe pathology develops.

There are many excellent over the counter products available that can help animal guardians minimize ear infections through the use of newer and more effective ear cleaners such as MalAcetic Otic or MalAcetic Ultra, both which can be wonderful preventatives and treatments for dogs afflicted with yeast or bacterial infections of the ear canals. Epi-Otic Advanced is also another wonderful ear cleaner that I’ve had great success with in practice. And while some pets will require prescription topical antibiotic/cortisone medications like Otomax and Mometamax, I’ve found the natural enzymatic products called Zymox Otic and Zymox Otic HC to sometimes be as effective as prescription medications. Plus, these pet medications do not have the long term risks and side effects of antibiotic resistance seen when prescription topical medicines are overused.

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  1. my dog was perscribed malacetic ultra. my other dog has the same infection & to avoid another vet bill what is the best non perscription medication i can buy

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I would try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds which is great for bacterial and yeast infections

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  4. I’m in the first 48 hrs of my dog being in pain, shaking his head, restlessness and crying. I took him to the first vet who did nothing. Finally I find a vet that was wiling to give him optic ultra and a Benadryl canine pill. Make a long story short, it’s 3am and he is up and in pain.
    My question would be can i put more drops in his ears?
    He really seems to be uncomfortable
    Thank you

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 25, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Yes you can put more ear drops in his ears. Also try natural calming agents like be serene from 1800petmeds.

  6. Thank you so much! This morning I have him rimadyl and because he isn’t eating he spit up yellowish vomit. Like a teaspoon. He seems a little weak and still shaking his head now pawing at his left ear. Although not shaking his head as hard as before. Is this a normal healing process or should I take him back in to vet?

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    If vomiting a bit, best to take to vet for exam and stop rimadyl, which can aggravate vomiting.

  8. Thank you so much DOC! They gave P’Nut a smear and ointment. Wasn’t one that you recommended to soothe the ears?

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Hopefully the prescribed ointments will help.

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Ear infections can be quite annoying in dogs, and can affect hearing eventually if left untreated.

  11. My beagle/jack russell is around 9 and has chronic ear infections. As the years progress, there are bumps that have grown in one ear canal and all but blocked it. He has end stage ear disease in left ear. We manage ear infections by cleaning once per week with Epi Otic followed by Posatex drops. Took him to the vet 10 days ago with head shake and sure enough, another infection in the affected ear. Normal ear was clear. Vet prescribed prednisone and Baytril antibiotic orally, along with gentramicin drops daily in both ears with cleaning every 3 days with Epiotic. Started the regimine. Noticed on Friday, 5 days laterm that now he not hearing at all in his normal ear. Advised the vet’s office, stopped the drops, flushed out his ear. Still taking meds orally.

    He can hear very loud noises – at least it appears he can. His ears perk up when it appears hearing something. Normal voice tones and squeak toys get no attention when out of visual range.

    I now, after researching, understand that gentramicin may cause temp hearing loss.

    Are there any recommendations to determining if the hearing loss is permanent? Is there anything that I should be doing to assist him in regaining hearing?

    Any information is greatly appreciated.

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I would give ONE dose of the homeopathic remedy Phosphorus in 30c potency 3 pellets by mouth all at once, which may help with hearing loss. As for the gentacin, usually the hearing loss is temporary. Not much else you can do to accelerate hearing regaining.

  13. I have a cocker spaniel that seems to keep yeast infections in her ear… normally have a rx on hand… don’t have extra $$$ for vet bill now… what can I use otc to help her.. Thank you…

  14. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I would try zymox otic from 1800petmeds in case like this. Excellent product.

  15. Using Mal-Acetic Ultra on my 15 week old cocker spaniel pups tonight and the boy is going nuts. Wonder if he could be allergic to anything in this? He really fought me on getting this med in his ears and is trying to rub it out on the floor. The girl did the same but not nearly as bad. Their ears were not too dirty but they always seem to smell a bit. They did have a little yeast about a month ago and were given Tresaderm drops. Not sure how often to use the Mal-Acetic and is there a product that might be less painful for them? Thank you.

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I would check with your local vet on other topical medication options. You could try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds as temporary alternative.

  17. My Maltese has an ear infection and was given Malacetic Ultra Plus by the vet. Is this the same as Malacetic Ultra or does the Plus contain additional ingredients.

  18. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 7, 2015 at 11:20 am

    The plus likely contains an additional ingredient, but not sure what that is. You could probably google it on line to find out

  19. My Cockapoo dog has yeast in his ears, we are using the MalAcetic Ultra. Should I be doing this twice a day and also cleaning. There is no puss or smell but there is really dark brown thick wax every time I clean. He also has a fit, scratching and shaking when I do them. I am thinking this is just because I am putting liquid in his ears? Do you think by continuing to use this product, it should clear up the yeast in his ears? Thank you so much

  20. HI Jodie. This is an excellent cleaner and product with yeast and/or certain types of bacterial overgrowth in ears, however from what you describe, I would strongly recommend a veterinary exam and evaluation of the ear discharge and/or culture as may need special topical prescription antibiotics, and/or oral meds, based on this testing

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