Ear Problems After Swimming
Our beagle Sophie must be part fish. Every summer when we are at the lake, she spends hours in the water. But inevitably, she winds up with ear problems that leave her scratching and crying. What can we do for her?
When dogs scratch their ears and cry, you can suspect any number of problems – general skin allergies, infections, cancer, ear mites, or foreign bodies in the ear.
Sophie’s problem most likely is an infection of the external ear canal. Between her daily dips in the lake and her long, floppy ears which trap moisture, she probably develops an infection caused by bacteria or fungus. Both thrive in wet, warm places.
The only certain way to pinpoint the cause is to have your veterinarian culture a scraping from inside her fear. Once a growth of the infectious organism is obtained, it can be tested with various drugs to see which is most effective.
Treatment often involves flushing the ear canals with a disinfectant then rinsing and drying. This helps the medicine work most effectively. At the same time, your veterinarian will clip the hair at the base of the inside of the ear. This lets in air which helps dry the inner canal.
Oral and injectable antibiotics plus anti-itching drugs may be needed to treat the infection and reduce itching and scratching. Surgical drainage is the only alternative where medicine is not effective.
If Sophie were suffering from an allergy, she would be scratching all over her body. Her ears would be red from scratching and perhaps have a slight odor. Treating the general allergy and applying a special ear-cleaning solution would relieve the itching.
Ear mites, another possibility, also would need to be treated with special ear drops. They often cause infections which can be cleared up with antibiotics.
Cancer is unlikely since Sophie’s problems appear when you are at the lake. Today tumors are removed with good success for recovery and little chance of hearing loss.
With Sophie’s problem you have the opportunity to exercise some preventative measures. You can use products for humans who are prone to the same problem (swimmers ear) before Sophie goes in the water. After she’s through playing in the water for the day, dry and clean her ears. Then squirt a few drops of disinfectant into the ears and massage the ear canal. Enjoy your vacation at the lake!