Ear disease is one of the most common conditions we see in pets. The medical name for inflammation of the outer ear canal is Otitis Externa (also known as external otitis and swimmer's ear). Estimates show that up to 20% of the dog population is affected by this disease.
Chronic ear infections are extremely common in long eared dogs, swimming dogs, recently vaccinated puppies, older/senior dogs, dogs with an abundance of ear wax, dogs with allergies, thyroid imbalances, or immune system disorders. Ear infections are among the most common recurring canine problems.
Conventional veterinary medicine often treats infected ears with oral antibiotics, topical drugs or even surgery. The problem is that none of these treatments is a cure. Ear infections tend to come back when the dog eats another ‘wrong’ food, goes for another swim, experiences another buildup of excess wax, or in some other way triggers a reoccurrence.
Dog's external ear anatomy and ear canal configuration creates a perfect incubator of microbes. Bacteria, yeast, and fungi love the extra oily secretions from affected dermal lining on which these organisms can thrive and grow. Since the ear environment is dark, warm and moist, it retains moisture and is difficult for pet owners to inspect and wipe clean.
Many dogs suffer from chronic ear infections that are caused by a yeast overgrowth. Yeast infections are always secondary to some underlying cause, such as allergies. Topical antibiotic treatment can also encourage the growth of yeast.
Foreign material in the ears causes irritation and if left untreated can lead to an infection. Grass seeds and lawns frequently cling to the hair surrounding the ear openings and then drop into the canals. Since the ear canal has an “L” shape, foreign bodies become lodged down in the canal and it can be difficult to thoroughly clean the ear without sedation. To avoid this, always groom under the ear flaps, especially after your dog has been running in tall grass, weeds and brush.
It is common in professional grooming parlors to pluck hair out of the ear canals. Serum then oozes from the hair pores. The serum makes an excellent medium for bacterial growth. This may be one reason why ear infections are more common among Poodles, Schnauzers, and other breeds that are professionally groomed. It is recommended that you do not allow hair to be plucked from this area unless there is a medical reason to do so. In some cases, the hair forms a wad that obstructs air flow and keeps the ear canals moist; avoiding this would be a valid medical reason to remove the offending hair.