Animal Surgery with Stuart Cooke: Prick up your ears for dogs


We often treat dogs who are suffering from ear conditions.

It’s a very common problem and there are a number of possible causes. Most ear problems in dogs can be treated easily, some may need further intervention and even surgery.

A bacterial ear infection, also known as otitis externa, is one of the most common ear conditions t. If your dog is suffering from this you might notice that they are shaking their head a lot and scratching their ears. There may even be a smell from the ears and occasionally discharge. Your dog may be reluctant to let you near its head. They may even become aggressive if the affected area is touched. Vets do a simple tests to diagnose a bacterial ear infection and, if your dog is found to be suffering from one the best course of treatment for the individual case will be prescribed, which may often be a course of antibiotics.

Other ear problems include ear mites – you might notice brown particles which look like coffee grains just inside your dog’s ear which makes him or her shake their head and scratch their ears. This can easily be treated with ear drops which are used with an ear cleaner but it’s important that the problem is professionally diagnosed by a vet before the relevant course of treatment can be decided.

And, of course, we often treat dogs who have got something in their ear which shouldn’t be there! It can be common for dogs to get grass seed in their ears. Again, symptoms include your dog scratching their ears and shaking their head. If the seed has become inflamed you may also notice a small amount of blood in your dog’s ear. Getting rid of foreign bodies in your dog’s ear, can include your vet attempting to flush the ears or removing the items surgically while the dog is either under general anaesthetic or sedated. This will be followed with pain relief and antibiotics.

If you think your dog may be suffering from ear problems then see your vet. Ear disease is unlikely to clear up on its own and the longer it remains untreated then the harder it is to clear up the problem.

It’s true that some breeds of dogs – ones with long dangly ears such as Springer Spaniels – are more prone to ear problems than others. Dogs which spend a lot of time in water may also suffer from regular ear problems, as well as dogs with allergies so, always check your dog’s ears regularly.