The Chihuahua is an increasingly popular breed with Australian dog lovers, particularly for people who want a toy dog that can live comfortably in a city centre apartment. While most people admire the Chihuahua for its tiny proportions, many of these animals have large, erect ears, which can make the breed susceptible to an ear infection. Learn more about the symptoms of this condition, and find out what you may need to do to fix the problem.
Causes of an ear infection
Ear infections normally occur for one of two reasons. A bacterial infection most commonly occurs when a dog's body produces excess staph bacteria. This can happen when a foreign object gets into the ear canal, but parasites and allergies can also cause the problem. As the Chihuahua is so small, this breed is quite susceptible to problems with foreign objects, especially if the dog runs through long grass or undergrowth.
If the dog gets water in his or her ear, a fungal infection can also occur. In fact, a relatively small amount of moisture can allow fungus or bacteria to breed. Some Chihuahua owners may inadvertently cause this problem by bathing the dog and failing to dry his or her ears properly.
Spotting the signs of an ear infection
An ear infection can quickly become very painful for your Chihuahua, and you may spot several symptoms. Signs of this type of infection can include:
- Excessive ear scratching
- Hair loss around the ear
- Head shakes
- Unpleasant smell coming from the ear
- Aggressive, snappy behaviour
A serious ear infection can lead to permanent hearing damage. As such, you should immediately take your Chihuahua to the vet if you spot any of these signs or any other symptoms that suggest he or she has an ear infection.
A vet will carry out a thorough investigation of the ear to make sure the cause is clear. If the vet diagnoses a bacterial infection, he or she will normally clean the ear carefully before prescribing antibiotics. You may also need to use an anti-bacterial cream or wash at home for a week or two, until the infection clears up.
When treating a fungal infection, the vet will also clean out the ear, but he or she will then need to use an anti-fungal product to get rid of the problem. In some cases, ear mites can cause an infection, which means the vet will need to use an insecticide.
Follow the vet's instructions carefully. During treatment, you may need to keep your dog inside and/or avoid getting the animal's ears wet. Your dog may also feel under the weather, so it's a good idea to avoid too much exercise or contact with other dogs.
Ear cleaning for Chihuahuas
Keeping your dog's ears clean can cut the risk of an infection, but you must take care when looking after this delicate area. Don't use cotton buds to clean inside the ear. You're more likely to push dirt and foreign objects deeper in the ear canal. Instead, buy a bottle of canine ear cleaning solution, and carefully use a cotton ball to gently rub the dirt away from the ear.
An ear infection can make life miserable for your Chihuahua and could even cause permanent hearing damage. Take your dog to the vet as soon as you spot any symptom of this problem.