Check your dog's ears regularly.
An ear infection is a common ailment in dogs, especially if they have skin conditions or allergies. Most owners will not pick up on the symptoms of an ear infection until the dog's symptoms are severe. The earlier an infection is detected and treated, the faster the dog will recover, and the less pain and discomfort it will have to endure.
It is recommended that you thoroughly check your companion on a regular basis. This good habit will allow you to detect problems sooner and will teach your dog to cooperate during an examination. It will be much easier to treat your pet for an illness if it has already become accustomed to having you touch various parts of its body.
To evaluate the ears, you should look at how your dog holds its head. Is it holding its head normally, or is it tilting it slightly to one side? Are both of the ears being held in the same position, or is one drooping more than the other? Is the dog scratching its ears more than usual? The best test is to lift the earflap and smell. If you detect a foul odor, chances are that an ear infection is present or is about to occur. If the infection is severe, you may even be able to see redness within the ear canal, as well as infective debris draining from the ear. Infected ears are extremely painful, so be gentle when checking them. You can tie a tube sock around your dog's muzzle to discourage biting, but do not put yourself in danger if your dog is showing its teeth.
If you detect any abnormalities, or your dog won't allow you to examine its ears, you should schedule the first available veterinary appointment. The veterinarian will determine the best course of action based on your dog's level of pain and the stage of the disease.
After the acute stage of an ear infection is controlled, it is important to properly clean your dog's ears. An experienced animal health provider can teach you how to do this. Regular ear cleanings may prevent ear infections from occurring in the future. This is especially necessary if your dog swims a great deal, since excessive moisture in the ear can lead to infection.
For more information about ear infections, see the article Canine Ear Infections in our encyclopedia.