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Common Ear Problems In Labradors

Ear problems can be very common in dogs, and because a Labradors ear is covered by an ear flap, it makes the inside of the ear canal warm and moist. It's pretty easy to tell if your dog has an ear infection, as they will probably be seen shaking their head, or rubbing their head against furniture or the carpet. There might also be a yellow, brown or black discharge in one or both ears.They may also whine if the infection is causing them discomfort, and you can often smell an unpleasant odour from around the ear itself. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, take a closer look at the ear and you will probably notice that the ear canal is red and inflamed. If you touch the ear itself, it will often hurt.

Causes include ear mites , allergies , yeast infection, food allergies, foreign bodies such as plant awns (seen in the western part of the USA), obstruction due to cancer, polyps, and excessive hair. Autoimmune diseases can also cause ear infections.

The two most common infections are otitis externa, infection of the ear canal, and otitis media, the infection of the middle ear. The cause of the ear canal infection, is most commonly bacterial or yeast related. It can also be a result of wax build up, thick or matted hair in the canal, debris, impaired drainage of the ear, mite infestations or a secondary result of another bodily infection. Otitis media, an infection of the middle ear, is a common result of the spread of an infection from the ear canal, where debris, ulceration, or improper cleaning ruptures the eardrum moving the infection into the middle ear.

Most ear infections are easily and successfully treated. But if left untreated, they could result in serious damage.


How Important Is It To Treat An Ear Infection?

If your labrador has an ear infection, the likelihood is, that he or she will be miserable. There ears are a source of constant pain, which will result in them shaking their heads and scratching. Head shaking and scratching can also cause broken blood vessels in the ear flap, requiring surgery, and chronic ear infections can penetrate the ear drum which will result in an internal ear infection.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Because many different culprits can be the cause of your dogs' ear infection, it is important to have your them examined by a vet who can then determine the proper medication or treatment. Your vet will also make sure the eardrum is intact, as some medications can result in hearing loss if administered to a dog with a ruptured eardrum.


Ear mites - Ear mites are tiny crab-like parasites that live in the ear canals and head of dogs, and sometimes their bodies. The mites live on the surface of the skin in the ear canal, where they feed on tissue debris and tissue fluids, but they can also spread to the skin. When this happens, your dog's back, neck and tail areas will itch. The presence of mites can cause severe inflammation in your affected dog's ears Ear mites can occur at any age, but are common with puppies as they haven't built up an immunity. If your lab has ear mites, they will probably have a larger amount of ear wax, a black discharge and will be scratching their ears.

It is always best to take your dog to see a vet if you suspect ear mites, who will clean your dogs ears and apply medication.


Allergies - Dogs have an incredible sense of hearing. To protect their hearing and prevent damage to the ear drum, their ear canals are L-shaped. The problem with this design is that it allows the ears to trap parasites, moisture, debris, and earwax, and any of these can lead to ear infections. Up to 80 percent of ear problems in dogs are linked to allergies.

Dogs that scratch excessively may be allergic to something. Some dogs are affected at certain times of the year, while others have problems only occasionally or even continually. They may be allergic to such things as flea bites, pollens, molds, grasses, trees, wool, tobacco smoke, certain foods, and even other animals. Regardless of the offending agent (allergen), the main signs are scratching and chewing the skin, which may result in extensive skin damage. The damaged skin is then highly susceptible to bacterial infection.

The best treatment is to determine the cause of the allergy and avoid it. As this is not always possible, various control measures are taken to relieve the itching and allow your labrador to live comfortably. Allergy testing may be performed by skin testing or blood testing. Testing is performed to determine the allergic cause and to develop a vaccine administered on a regular basis to stimulate your dog's immune system to fight the allergic causes. Allergy treatment by injections may take one year to see results and is moderately successful.


Top Tips To Prevent Labrador Ear Infections

- Always dry your dogs ears after bathing.

- Clean your labrador ears once a week. (You can use an ear cleansing solution recommended by your vet, and your vet will advise how cleaning should be carried out.)

- If your labrador has allergies (one of the prime causes of ear infections) they should be treated for the allergy as soon as they start itching.

- A healthy ear is pale pink and has no odour, be sure to check your dogs ears regularly.

Please remember, any health advice noted here should not replace a visit to the vets. Please take your dog immediately to see your vet at any sign of odd behaviour or any symptoms of illness or injury.

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