Yeast infections are probably the most common type of ear infections in dogs. What are yeast infections? Why are they so common? What can I do to treat or prevent such infections? To answer these questions please read on.

What are yeast infections?

Yeast are single celled fungus. We can find many types of yeast in our lives such as the ones that are used in brewing beer or baking bread. Some types of yeast are less useful and often irritating to us. Such is the type of yeast that grows in your pet's ears.

Why are yeast infections so common?

Dogs have long ear canals that can hold water after a bath, swim, or run through tall, wet grass. Add to this a floppy ear that prevents good ventilation of the ear canal and you have a warm, moist, dark environment in which yeast thrive. The more moisture yeast get, the worse the infection will be.

Yeast infections are most common in dogs that love water (labs, retrievers), have long floppy ears (bassets, beagles, spaniels), have either narrow and/or furry ear canals (poodles, cocker spaniels), or have a history of ear infections or allergies.

The follow symptoms are usual when a dog has an ear infection:

  • The inside of his ears will appear red and irritated.
  • He will shake his head and scratch at his ears almost constantly, sometimes to the point of bleeding.
  • A foul odor will emanate from the inside of his ears.
  • He may whine, pace, or even stop eating because of the pain and irritation.
Serious injury or permanent damage may occur to the ears if an ear infection is left untreated.

What can be done to prevent ear infections? Prevention and early treatment are the keys. In principle, yeast are easy to kill if you keep in mind that they hate dry, acidic environments. If you keep your dog's inner ears dry and clean by using an acidic type cleaning solution made for dog's ears, you will make the ear environment very uninviting to yeast. Acidic cleaning solutions such as Oti-clens, Epi-Otic, and Oti-dry are available from your veterinarian.

What if the infection does not clear up? It is common to see a bacterial infection associated with a severe yeast infection. Routine ear cleaning will NOT cure a serious bacterial infection. Such double infections occur when yeast infections are not treated in their early stages. It is more difficult and expensive to cure this double infection.

Your dog may also have underlying problems such as allergies and hypothyroidism that can add to the seriousness of an ear infection.

If you see no improvement in your pet's ears within 72 hours after you start cleaning them, make an appointment to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. You dog may need other medications to clear up the infections. If severe irritation or a creamy discharge is noticed, see your veterinarian right away.

Ear infections can be very painful for your dog but they can be avoided with a little help from you.


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