Puppy ear infections DO happen, and because of the young age of the dog, they can be difficult to take care of. First, it's important that we take a minute to discuss the term "puppy" and what age is considered an adult.
Most dog owners use the 2 year mark as the official transition from puppyhood to adulthood for Whiskers. However, it truly does very by breed, with smaller dogs maturing more quickly than larger breeds.
For the purposes of this article, we will consider puppies to be between birth and 2 years old.
Are Puppy Ear Infections Worse Than Adult Infections?
For puppies that are very young, under 6 weeks, an ear infection can be a very dangerous condition. Since the pups ears are still developing, and their immune systems are not yet strong, an ear infection can progress much more quickly in a baby pup. To compound that issue, there are much fewer options for treatment if a puppy under 6 weeks is suffering from an ear infection.
If you do have a puppy under 6 weeks that is suffering, popular ear cleaners and ear infection treatments such as Zymox and Virbac should be avoided on puppies because of the multitude of harsh chemicals in the ingredient list. There are many natural solutions available, and checking with your veterinarian should point you in the right direction.
If you have a puppy between 6 weeks and 2 years old, you have much less to worry about. Puppy ear infections at this stage are no worse in severity than ear infections in adult age dogs.
That being said, dealing with an ear infection with a puppy is more challenging to treat than adult dogs, because puppies tend to be much more skittish when having their ears touched. You will need to be extra patient and slow when doing ear treatments or cleanings on a puppy. You definitely want to give many treats and reassurance to make sure that they are comfortable enough to have the effective cleaning session possible.
Symptoms of Puppy Ear Infections
The symptoms of ear infections in young dogs are the same as those in an adult. If you are able to spot the signs early, you will be in much better shape to stop the infection where it stands. Catching an ear infection at an early stage means you might avoid a trip to the vet and all of the expenses that come along with it.
You need to take action if you notice your puppy showing any of the following symptoms:
- shaking it's head
scratching it's ears or head on the carpet
- redness outside or inside the ear canal
- excessive dark colored wax or discharge
- a foul odor coming from the ears
Ear infections are the most common reason for a visit to the vet. If you want to avoid spending hundreds of dollars every time it happens, it is best to shift your focus your efforts on preventative measures instead of reactionary ones. That being said, the first thing you should do if you notice your young dog experiencing any of the above symptoms is to do a thorough ear cleaning.
Infections in puppy's ears thrive on wax, dirt, and darkness. By getting rid of the wax, and drying out the area when you're done, you will be able to make a lot of progress in beating this infection. By using a high quality dog ear cleaner with a clean cloth, cotton ball or cotton pad, you can get rid of a lot of dirt and bacteria that are causing the infection.
Because puppies are young and more sensitive, it is definitely preferable to use a natural treatment as opposed to a chemical one. Coconut oil has recently been hailed as a miracle cure for immune support and skin care. For puppy ear infections, coconut oil also has anti fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, all of which are helpful when trying to naturally fight off an infection.
Knowing the secrets of cleaning dog ears is a specialty that most groomers and veterinarians have mastered. We recently wrote an in-depth article on the process in a post titled: How to Clean Dogs' Ears - The Expert's Guide.
The bottom line is that if you have a puppy under 6 weeks that is showing the symptoms of a serious ear condition, you should go to the vet. If your puppy is between 6 weeks and 2 years, you can avoid a trip to the vet by using a natural dog ear cleaner. Either way, it is recommended to avoid using harsh chemical medication that can cause long term damage to your young dog.