Why Are My Dog’s Ears Itchy?

Q

Why are my dog’s ears itchy?

A

Many dogs have problems with ear infections or more appropriately, otitis externa. While some of these infections are bacterial, the most common cause is yeast.

Yeast are normal inhabitants of the ear canal. But the immune system keeps them to small numbers. When these yeast get out of control, the result is an itchy smelly ear. There are many reasons why they proliferate but the most common are anatomy and allergies.

When dogs have floppy ears or excessive ear hair, the ear becomes a wonderful incubator. Moisture and humidity levels increase and normal flora grow out of control. Add to this a little moisture from a bath or from inclement weather and we have the makings of a nasty ear infection

Allergies are a little more difficult to understand. While most allergy symptoms in humans involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs most often involve the skin. The skin lining the ears becomes inflamed which causes changes in pH and the amount of secretions favoring yeast growth. The result is an infection.

Treatment usually involves using a cleaner which removes debris and moisture and adjusts pH, and an anti-fungal medication.  The inflammation usually resolves quickly, but since yeast is always present, the infection can return whenever conditions allow.  Prevention is the best cure. This involves routine cleaning and, if needed, allergy control.

For further information or to schedule an appointment, contact Hudson Veterinary Hospital at (330)650-2929.