Ear infections can cause extreme discomfort and further health problems if left untreated.
Dogs’ and cats’ ear canals are long “L” shaped, funnel-like tubes. They are great for hearing but this shape predisposes them to collecting debris and moisture. The most common causes of ear infections include allergies, trapped moisture, and excessive earwax.
In many cases, ear drops can be applied into the affected ear. If there is foreign matter or excess discharge in the ear canal, the pet will probably need to be anaesthetized to be able to clean and examine the ear. This is because the head shaking reflex is so deeply engrained; sedation is often not sufficient, even if very deep. Sometimes this must be done just so that the detritus can be removed prior to the ear drops being administered because the wax and other detritus prevents the drops from penetrating into the ear, and also the detritus can inactivate the ingredients in the drops. It is wise not to put ear drops into an ear that has not had the ear drum checked; if it is ruptured the drugs can enter the middle ear and cause more problems than they solve.
Ear problems are often related to skin problems, as the ears are lined with skin. Often food allergies in dogs present as recurrent ear problems affecting both ears and chewing of the feet, usually the front feet more than the rear feet.
In summary, regular bathing using an appropriate shampoo (using human shampoos can cause problems because our hair is oilier than dogs' hair), appropriate parasite control and seeking attention from a vet early in case of problems, as well as sound nutrition will give your pet the best chance of having a glossy healthy coat.