Ear Infections In Chihuahuas - Prevention and Treatment
Chihuahuas are truly unique dogs. Not only is it the most diverse breed in the world, but despite their seemingly fragile physiology, most types of Chihuahuas are pretty healthy low maintenance dogs. However, unfortunately, even their sassy and joyful pets may face some pretty severe health challenges. Ear infections are among them.
In fact, ear infections are named #3 most common problem among Chihuahuas. The top 2 ones are bladder infections and skin conditions. The biggest concern about Chihuahuas` ear infections is the fact that most owners fail to recognize and start treating the issue on time before it grows into a serious condition or a chronic disease.
In this article, we shall describe the nature of ear infections among Chihuahuas and their symptoms. We shall also talk about the most efficient treatment and, most importantly, prevention measures that will help you and your Chi avoid the harsh consequences of this condition.
Why Ear Infections Occur Among Chihuahuas so Often?
Chihuahuas’ ears are pretty unique and complicated not only comparing to humans but to most other canines`. They have the most complicated and very long ear canal with both vertical and horizontal components.
On the one hand, such ear physiology allows Chihuahuas to be one of the most sound-sensitive dogs. But at the same time, such a complicated structure combined with its small size becomes the reason why Chihuahuas` ears often become such a fruitful soil for infection development.
Chihuahua's ear canals have the so-called J-shaped structure. That is why:
- Debris and contamination accumulates in Chihuahuas` ears easily
- Once a pathogen gets inside the dog’s ear, it settles there firmly.
In addition, Chihuahuas are dogs with pretty complicated behavior and various personality. The first symptoms of a dog’s ear infections usually express in the change of behavior or habits, which owners often tend to connect with any kind of issues except for ear infections. Eventually, the pathogen gets enough time to develop thoroughly as we hardly ever manage to recognize and treat the problem on time.
Types of Chihuahuas' Ear Infections.
The general name for ear infections is Otitis. To distinguish between different types of Otitis, their peculiarities, and their effect on a dog’s health, let’s take a closer look at the ear’s physiology.
Just like with human ears, Chihuahuas have an ear canal, eardrum, middle and inner ear. However, as we have mentioned before, those organs are proportionally much longer than humans` and sit very deep inside a dog’s head.
Based on the infected area, experts divide Chihuahuas` Otitis into 3 types:
- Otitis interna – inflammation of the inner ear
- Otitis media – inflammation of the middle ear
- Otitis externa – inflammation of the ear canal
As you might have already understood, a dog’s ear infection is an inflammation of a certain part of the hearing organ system. Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction when it identifies any kind of pathogen in the system. To seal and fight it, the dog’s immune system manufactures an enormous amount of white blood cells and directs them towards the infected area. In most cases, this mechanism is pretty efficient and manages to cope with the threat without any additional help, so you or your Chi may not even notice that there was any kind of danger.
But sometimes, the system fails and loses control over the white blood cells production, their effectiveness, and distribution over the dog’s body. In those cases, inflammation goes out of control, developing into a serious condition that requires immediate qualified medical attention.
Otitis externa – inflammation of the ear canal is the most common kind of ear infection among Chihuahuas. Their big wide-open ears are pretty prone to collecting pathogens or other external contaminants that can lead to inflammations. With proper and timely treatment, such inflammations are not dangerous and hardly grow into middle or inner Otitis.
These inflammations can be quick and one-time or grow into a chronic disease of hearing organs. They may also affect one or both dogs’ ears simultaneously or with a minor time gap between the symptoms` indications. Therefore once you managed to catch and treat your Chi’s ear infection, don’t relax and keep your eye on the second ear even if it seems to be perfectly healthy at the moment.
Symptoms of Chihuahua's Ear Infections.
Let’s make it clear: just like humans, Chihuahuas have both pathogens and useful bacteria and yeast on their bodies, including the ear canals. Those microorganisms help dogs` bodies get rid of minor contaminations and fight pathogens. That is why if you thought that any kind of disinfection or thorough deep cleaning is the best way to prevent inflammations, think twice.
However, if dirt and debris build-up or your Chi gets exposed to any extreme conditions such as moisture, cold air, wind, etc., it can become a reason for the settlement and development of ear infections.
The earlier you manage to recognize the first signs of ear infection in your Chihuahuas, the bigger are your chances to treat the issue accordingly before it develops into a serious disease:
- Head shaking or tilt;
- Unpleasant odor from one or both ears;
- Pain ( you can say that your Chihuahua is in pain when he or she either scratches ears too much or suddenly start avoiding your contact).
There are also several secondary symptoms of ear inflammations. On their own, those signs can point at various health issues but combined with those mentioned above; they clearly indicate Otitis:
- Loss of balance while walking or standing (inflammations may compromise the work of the dog’s vestibular system that depends on the inner ear’s condition);
- Loss of hearing;
- Slow reaction;
- Loss of appetite (mostly caused by pain or the fact that damaged vestibular system causes nausea).
However, it does not mean that you have to wait for the appearance of several symptoms to be sure that your Chihuahua has developed an ear infection. As soon as you notice any kind of behavior change, loss of appetite, or pain symptoms, address a Vet immediately.
Are Chihuahuas Ear Infections Contagious, and can they go on their own?
It is natural that you may be concerned that your Chihuahua’s ear infection can be transferred to you, your family members, or other pets that you have. However, experts claim that the ear infections themselves are not contagious. Those are conditions that develop inside a dog’s ear due to the settlement and development of pathogens and their bodies` reaction to this process.
However, sometimes ear infection is caused or accompanied by the development of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is a highly contagious pathogen that transfers pretty easily through direct physical contact. To eliminate the threat of such a course of events, veterinarians often take analysis to determine the flora that has developed and caused the inflammation. In case of any potentially contagious presence, your vet will recommend you to separate the affected Chi during treatment and wash your hands thoroughly after each physical contact.
Unfortunately, if the inflammation has developed into Otitis, it will not go away on its own. The further course of events and treatment efficiency will fully depend on how fast you will address the vet after noticing the first symptoms.
How To Treat Ear Infections In Chihuahuas?
There are several ways to treat ear infections. To determine the proper one for your Chi, the doctor will have to conduct thorough diagnostics:
- Checking the debris from dog’s ear under a microscope to determine the type of flora, bacterial cells, and fungus that developed in the ear;
- With special chemicals, a doctor will determine the precise type of bacteria that caused the inflammation. It will help your vet to prescribe the most efficient antibiotics in your dog’s case;
- Sometimes a doctor may need to conduct blood testing to determine accompanying health conditions that can affect the course of treatment;
- If your Chi has developed a complicated inner ear inflammation, a vet may need an X-Ray, CT, or MRI scanning to determine the problem and treatment.
Based on this testing protocol, your vet will prescribe one of the following treatment methods:
- Oral antibiotics – most antifungal remedies and antibiotics are oral, which means that they get into your Chi’s blood through the digestive system;
- Topical – various cancers, drops, and ointments may be either independent solutions or be combined with oral medicine;
- Surgical – if the inflammation is severe, your dog’s system does not respond to medical treatment for some reason, or your Chi has conditions that prevent from using any kind of topical or oral remedies, a doctor may have to open the ear canal surgically to remove all the contamination and affected tissue.
How To Prevent Ear Infections In Chihuahuas?
It is important to understand that just like any other dog, your Chihuahua has all the natural mechanisms that help your pet maintain ears` cleanness and health. However, once you bathe your dog or your pet swims a lot, your Chi gets exposed to cold temperatures or wind; it is crucial to clean and release the dog’s ears from the excess moisture and contamination.
There are lots of cleaning products and solutions for dogs` ears on the modern market, and your vet will gladly recommend the one that fits your Chi perfectly. However, there are certain ground rules that will help take care of your Chihuahua’s ears properly:
- Never use alcohol, sanitizer, or hydrogen peroxide. They kill the ear’s natural flora and cause inflammations instead of preventing them;
- Use cotton balls and ear wipes only to clean crevices and the earflap;
- Don’t stick q-tips or cotton balls inside Chihuahua’s ear as it can damage the hearing canal and even the eardrum mechanically.
Taking care of your Chihuahua’s ears is one of the crucial healthcare procedures. And although it all may seem complicated and pretty scary in theory, in real life, paying enough attention to your Chi’s behavior and regular prophylactic vet visits will practically eliminate the threat for your Chi to develop any kind of severe ear inflammation.