Whilst any dog can potentially suffer from an ear infection, some pets are unlucky enough to experience ear troubles throughout their life.

Recurrent ear infections can be understandably frustrating for both pet and owner, and it important to understand why it keeps happening and how you can help.

There are some common pitfalls of managing ear infections which can contribute to ear infections that do not resolve or keep reoccurring. Knowing the reason is important to help manage the problem effectively

Common reasons for an ear infection returning include

  • Stopping treatment before the infection has completely resolved
  • Inability or inconsistency in applying ear medication at home
  • Not following up to make sure the infection has resolved
  • Damage to an ear canal due to previous infections
  • Underlying skin and ear allergies such as Atopic dermatitis

Why are some pets prone to Chronic and recurrent ear infections?

Certain dogs can be more likely to develop ear infections repeatedly. The most common reason is linked to Atopic Dermatitis and skin allergies which we have been discussing previously. The ear is an extension of the skin which is why allergies can cause ear problems as well.

Certain breeds can also be prone to developing problems more commonly. For example

  • Shar Peis can have very narrowed ear canals which trap wax and moisture, as well as often having underlying skin allergies.
  • Cocker Spaniels tend to be more prone to developing inflammatory changes within the ears linked to more reactive ceruminal glands within their ear canals.
  • Some breeds with very hairy ears such as poodles can trap dirt and moisture with ear canals.


Treating and Managing Chronic ear problems.
1. Treating secondary infections is obviously important. Generally ear drops can be quite effective for most common ear infections, but can sometimes be challenging to administer, especially if the infected ear is too painful to medicate daily or pets resent being treated. For such cases we now have longer acting medicated Ear-gel treatments which can last for up to a week. This replaces the need for daily ear medication at home, which can greatly benefit both pet and owner.
2. Scheduled reassessments after the recommended treatment course to ensure complete resolution of infections. Reassessments also enable us to detect abnormal changes that may persists and helps with the development of a management plan.
3. For ears with reoccurring problems and abnormal changes having an effective management plan can help reduce the number of flare ups each year, thereby reduce ongoing damage.
4. Some pets can also benefit from the treatments recommended for Atopic dermatitis and Skin allergies, such as regular topical treatments, regular allergy treatments such as Cytopoint, and nutritional support, as discussed in previous article on Atopic Dermatitis.

What are the potential complications of leaving ear infections untreated?

Unfortunately, when a dog experiences recurrent or ongoing ear issues that may be poorly managed, it can cause thickening and narrowing of the affected ear canal. A chronically narrowed and thickened ear canal has an increased risk of becoming infected along with increase difficulty medicating and cleaning.

The take home messageā€¦

It is important to realize that some pets will have ongoing ear problems, flare ups and ear infections. Being able to recognize the signs of a flare up early, and also having a suitable treatment plan in between flare ups can help improve the overall health of you pet’s ears.