Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
A canine’s ear canal is an elongated "L"-shaped passage. The elbow of the "L" acts as a trap collecting foreign debris, but can also be a collecting point for various organisms. This dark damp environment is also a perfect breeding ground for a variety of microbes. Parasites, especially mites, bacterial, fungal and yeast are the most common causes of ear infections in dogs.
The Spaniel breeds are particularly prone to ear problems mainly because of their earflaps and excessive hair surrounding the ear canal opening. However, because the Retriever breeds spend a great amount of time in the water, they can also be prone to ear infections. Pendant-eared dogs have ears, which lay over the aural opening. Consequently, less air is able to circulate through the ear canal allowing it to dry, resulting in a higher rate of ear infections. Also, because their ears tend to hang into their bowls, they become wet while drinking or collect food particles while eating, thus, creating perfect environments in which bacteria and fungus may grow. However, any dog that does not receive regular ear care can suffer from ear infections. Left untreated, infected ears can lead to more severe problems such as chronic ear infections that become antibiotic resilient. The infected ear may also develop blood clots (Hematomas) which are extremely painful and must be lanced and drained by your veterinarian. Ultimately, the dog can suffer some degree of hearing loss.
Ear infections can progress to the point that surgery is required. The most common procedures are the Lateral Ear Resection and an Ear Ablation. During the Lateral Ear Resection, the ear canal opening is increased, allowing more air to pass into the ear canal helping to prevent build-up and allow the ear canal to remain dry. The Ear Ablation is a procedure in which the infected portions of the dog’s ear are removed, usually leaving the dog deaf.
As always, prevention is the best way to avoid ear infections. Follow a regular ear cleaning regiment and see your veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection.
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