Dr. Waechter-Mead explained that yeast and bacteria are common culprits, with ear mites lower on the list. It is estimated that approximately 90 percent of the ear infection cases vets see are from another common culprit - allergies.
"Your dog may be experiencing problems including scratching at his ears or rubbing his head on the ground, an unpleasant odor from the ears, redness or drainage from the ears, and shaking or tilting of his head," Dr. Waechter-Mead said. My dog was exhibiting all of these symptoms, especially shaking his head toward the ground. Once I noticed that, I took a whiff of his ears - and almost passed out, the odor was so strong. And as both Drs. Waechter-Mead and Hendricks urged, if your dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors, it's time to call your veterinarian.
If you notice your dog starting to exhibit any of the above symptoms, lift the flap of your dog's ear to take a look. "It's important to track these symptoms daily so you can catch it before the condition worsens," Dr. Waechter-Mead said. Dr. Hendricks said it's also good to get acquainted with your dog's ears before an ear infection arises. Check them out to see what is normal - how they look and smell and how your dog typically interacts with their ears.
First and foremost, head to the vet. Your vet will need to see your dog's infection to know how to best treat it. Dr. Hendricks urges his patients not to buy over-the-counter medications. In his experience, if you try these methods first before taking your dog to the vet, you will likely just create a bigger problem. It's important that your veterinarian see what the specific problem is, prescribe what they need to, then do a recheck a week or two later, he explained.
After we took our dog to the veterinarian and administered his prescribed antibiotics, he started feeling better after about two days. He was symptom-free and back to his playful self. We took him back in to see our vet one week later, and things were thankfully clearing up just fine. Now I know exactly what signs to look for, and I'll be sure to give my veterinarian a call if I see him acting peculiar right away. A hard but valuable lesson learned.