Golden Retriever | Ear Infections | Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Soft, floppy ears like that of the Golden Retriever dog are particularly susceptible to irritation, and unfortunately also to infection. Unlike dogs with erect ears, Golden Retriever dogs don't often get a steady oxygen supply in their ears to keep their dry, and the moisture in the ear region may breed infectious bacteria. Sooner or later, it is likely that you will encounter the familiar symptoms of an ear infection in your Golden Retriever dog. While ear infections are not serious, and can often be treated at home, if left untreated they may become more serious and lead to more severe illnesses and conditions, such as deafness as a result of the hardening of ear cartilage, so don't hesitate when it comes to taking action. Ear infections come in three forms – those that affect the outer ear, those that affect the middle ear (the region just inside the drum), and those that affect the inner ear, closest to the brain. Most ear infections begin in the outer ear, and as such display many noticeable signs. Infections can be caused by allergies, mites, dirt, water, fleas, ticks, bacteria, or yeast.
If your dog is frequently itching or scratching his or her ear area, or if you notice any crusty brown pus oozing from the ear area (often accompanied by a bad, bacterial smell) these are possible signs of an ear infection, particularly if your dog is shaking his head frequently, rubbing his ears on the floor or carpet to “scratch”, or exhibiting pain at being touched. These are all symptoms of outer ear infection. If the infection has, however, moved to the middle ear area, your dog may exhibit nausea, loss of balance, and a tilted head.
Luckily, when caught early on, ear infections are relatively treatable, especially when they involve only the outer ear. While you should contact your veterinarian before embarking on any course of treatment, one popular home-made remedy involves combining one part isoproyl alcohol with two parts white vinegar, squirting the mixture into the dog's ear with a needle-free syringe, and massaging the ear – although this may sting if done on a more inflamed ear, and is recommended only in milder cases. Chamomile tea (lukewarm) and olive oil are also remedies to soothe ears. Be sure to let your veterinarian prescribe drops or ointments – and use the entire course prescribed. Too many dog owners give up on treatment after seeing signs of improvement, which only allows the infection to return. If your dog fails to show any improvement, however, call your vet. For middle-ear infections, antibiotics will be necessary. If, however, your dog has experienced so many ear infections that the cartilage in the ear hardness, causing deafness, this may be treatable only through surgery – preventative care, and early-on treatments of ear infections, are necessary to avoid this pricey and painful step.