Ear infection in Labradors is quite common. If you find your Lab constantly scratching, shaking, and rubbing his ears on the floor, chances are high that he is experiencing an ear infection, and you must do something about it fast.
If left untreated, ear infections can lead to conditions that are more difficult to treat, such as hematoma and deafness. Your Labrador can also injure the tip of his ears with constant scratching – making it bleed and resulting in open wounds.
Why do Labradors often get an ear infection?
Labradors are prone to ear infection because of the shape of their ears. The flap of the Labrador ears covers their ear canal, thus, creating a warmer and moist environment, where bacteria and germs can easily grow and multiply.
This means that Labradors and other floppy-eared dogs, such as Beagles, Dachshunds, and Weimaraners, are somewhat more vulnerable to ear problems than dogs with pricked up ears, such as German Shepherds, Corgis, and Westies.
Unfortunately, there are also some Labradors with narrow or very hairy ear canals due to congenital defects and this increases the risk of ear infection in them.
Signs of ear infection in Labradors
If your Labrador is suffering from ear infections, you may see him showing the following signs and symptoms.
- Rubbing of head and ears
- Shaking of head
- Foul odor from dog’s ear
- Yellowish or dark brown discharge from ear
- Redness of the ear flap and canal
- Swelling of the ear flap and canal
What are the different causes of an ear infection?
There are various reasons why dogs get ear infections. So finding out the particular cause is important in determining the treatment your Labrador needs.
Here are some of the most common causes of ear infections in Labradors:
- Allergies – Your Labrador may be allergic to an ingredient in the dog food he is eating. He may have eaten something toxic or got in contact with something he is allergic to.
- Ear mites – If your Labrador’s ear has dark brown discharge that smells awful, there is a chance that he has ear mites. A vet should be able to confirm this by collecting a swab of your dog’s ear discharge and taking a close look at it under the microscope.
- Yeast and/or bacterial infection – A normal and healthy dog ear has a good defense against yeast and bacteria. However, changes in the ear caused by moisture, allergies, and hormonal imbalance can cause these microorganisms to multiply and flourish. Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to this since the lack of air circulation makes their ear canals moist – making them good breeding grounds for yeast and bacteria.
- Hormonal Imbalance — Just like in humans, hormonal imbalance in dogs can cause skin and ear problems. Sex hormones and glucocorticoids produced by the adrenal gland can influence the health of a dog’s skin and ears.
- Foreign objects – Your Labrador can get foreign objects, such as plant awns stuck in his ear. The presence of foreign objects in a dog’s ear can cause irritations leading to infections.
How to treat ear infection in Labradors?
Determining the root cause of your Labrador’s ear infection is the first step to treating it effectively. For Labradors with allergies, eliminating and avoiding the allergen is important to keep the ear infection and allergic reactions from recurring. A vet will prescribe a good ear cleaner or antibacterial eardrops to help treat the infection.
For ear mites, your Labrador’s veterinarian might prescribe medications to be directly applied to the ear. Combination heartworm preventative solutions may also help kill ear mites and other internal parasites infecting ears. Aside from these, the vet may also recommend a good ear cleaner or anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial drop. These drops are useful to treat ear infection and inflammation.
To prevent bacterial infections, cleaning your Labrador’s ears regularly is essential. Your veterinarian may also suggest regular use of anti-bacterial drops to fight potential infection.
Yeast infections are harder to treat as this can be recurrent and can cause severe ear problems. Labradors with a yeast infection in their ears require daily cleaning. They also need special medications to eradicate the yeast. If you suspect your dog’s ears have a yeast infection, it’s best to take him to the veterinarian.
How to prevent ear infection in Labradors?
Taking note of your Labrador’s allergies and making sure that he avoids them is a good preventive measure.
Cleaning your Labrador’s ear and keeping it dry – especially after a bath and swim – is also a must to prevent any wax and bacteria build up.
If you see any signs of ear infection in your Labrador, a trip to the vet is necessary to determine the cause and treatment required.