Ann DueHave you ever seen your dog scratching its ear, or shaking its head more than usual?  Have you looked at it and thought – seems fine, but noticed a funny smell?  Or maybe there is simply discharge for the ear – but no other symptoms to support there being anything wrong?  What ever it is that has caught your attention, it is possible that your dog might have an ear infection.  Did you know, it is one of the most common ailments that effects our furry friends.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that most dogs love having their ears rubbed and massaged.  It seems to put them into a natural state of bliss, and really helps with the bonding process when taking on a new dog.  German Shepherds are no exception to this rule, and for a rescue dog – it is an ideal way to form that new relationship.  The main reason for this I believe is because it’s one of the three key nerve centres of their body.  When you take on a rescue dog, often we don’t know what their environment was like prior – so establishing this bond early is essential.  Combined with the fact that many ear infections are caused by environmental issues, I thought I would touch on a few today.

Most ear infections are in the outer ear of your dog – but if left untreated they can spread to the inner ear (which is more disturbing and painful for them).  Many of the common causes are; not having enough air to absorb moisture, dirt, allergies, food and environmental changes.  As moisture is one of the most common causes, it is probably no surprise that GSD dogs that love to swim are most at risk (along with puppies before their ears fully stand up).

My first piece of advise for anyone who has a dog you suspect has an ear infection is go and get it checked out.  Regardless of age, how long you have had them, don’t delay – if treated early it’s usually very easy to treat.  I had my GSD from 8 weeks old and he was 9 before our first ear infection appeared.

Knowing what to expect when you go to the vet is important (trust me – they are not going to give you beloved a hearing test with ear phones and expect them to tap their paw on the floor when they hear a beep).  They will look into the ear and see what we cant visually see.  If the ear is already sore – this can be a bit discomforting … hence the importance of going early.  They may do an ear swab – but again, this varies depending upon the symptoms.

Should it be confirmed as an ear infection, chances are you will be given antibiotics.  These may be oral – or ear drops – or a cleaning solution, to name a few.  My advice is ensure you finish the full treatment.  If it seems to have cleared up already – don’t stop.  Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not still there.  And if at the end your treatment course, if there any signs of it still being there – don’t be shy – just go back!!

All our German Shepherds have beautiful, tall ears.  They usually love having them massaged, so don’t ignore the simple warning signs.  Don’t deprive your beautiful four legged friend the opportunity of enjoying that.  You may find it only happens once, as prevention is usually better than the cure.  If you can eliminate the problem, it might never happen again.  When my German Shepherd boy had an ear infection, I used to clean it out and started using my hair dryer on low heat to ensure it was completely dry.  He took a fondness to this…. But that’s just what worked for me.  Feel free to share what worked for you.