The ear is an organ of hearing and balance. It helps them to hear everything that is happening around and in communication with others as well as protects them from dangerous situations. From the communication aspect, we’re able to understand our dog feelings and intentions based on their ear position.
It is a pretty complex organ that should be properly taken care of. In order to do it, you need to know its structure, because inappropriate care can create even bigger problems.
Ears are protected from microorganisms by wax and hair, that is why a little bit of ear wax and hair in the ear is a normal thing.
Structure of the ear
The ear consists of 3 parts: outer, middle, and inner ear
1. The outer ear consists of pinna – the part that you can see from the outside. It’s made from cartilage which is surrounded by skin, fur, and hair.
The second part is the ear canal that is connecting the outer ear to the middle ear, they are separated by the eardrum, also called the tympanic membrane.
The size and shape of pinna depend on the breed, but as you probably already know dogs can hear much better than humans. That’s why the pinnae are mobile and can move independently of each other. The ear canal of the dog is much deeper compared to humans. It creates a better funnel to carry sound to the eardrum, the canal is not horizontal, but instead L-shaped. That is also a reason why they have a lot more ear infection problems.
2. The middle ear consists of eardrum and 3 tiny hearing bones (the hammer, anvil and stirrup).
This part is connected to the back of the nose. Therefore it helps the air to enter. This is important to know, as many diseases can cause not only inflammation of the ear, but also imbalances and general inflammation of the throat.
3. The inner ear has a complex structure that includes the cochlea (the organ of hearing) and the vestibular system (the organ of balance).
Anatomy of the dog’s ear
The most common ear diseases
Signs of ear infection:
- Ear scratching;
- More head shaking than usual;
- Unpleasant smell;
- Secretions from the ear.
There are 3 types of infections – otitis externa, otitis media, and interna. Only the outer ear is exposed to external conditions, the infection of the middle and inner ear arises from the outer ear. Otitis media and interna can be very serious and may result in deafness, facial paralysis, and even vestibular signs.
Bacterial and fungal ear inflammation is the most common ear problems, also parasitic ear inflammation caused by ear mites can occur pretty often.
Bacterial and fungal ear inflammation
When the adverse conditions occur the natural balance is disturbed, when the ear canal gets wet or if there’s an allergic reaction or some kind of injury additional irritation develops then there’s an opportunity for bacterial or fungal inflammation to appear.
Parasitic ear inflammation
Dogs can get ear mites from other animals that have them. Unfortunately, there are so many of these bugs that they live not only in the ears but also on the animal’s hair. This means that by playing with a dog that has ear mites your dog can also get them.
Deeper ear damage
If there’s serious damage in the ear then there might appear exudation, increased proliferation of ear canal cells, resulting in a narrow ear canal. When purulence and other exudates are released, the dog will have a very unpleasant feeling: he scratches his ears intensely, shakes his head, often also scratches at the base of the ear, injuring himself.
How to protect dog ears?
The best way how to protect the ears is to prevent them from getting wet, it is important to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after swimming and bathing.
If your dog doesn’t have any problems with ears I recommend that doing nothing is the best way to protect them. The construction of the ear is intended to protect them, also the ear wax and hair are there to protect from external factors. It’s important to occasionally follow on how the ear looks from the outside, if everything is okay then there is no need to interfere.
If your dog often has dirty ears you need to check it with your doctor, it might be a bacterial inflammation or even a parasitic ear infection. Any of these inflammations may have a different treatment. It’s important to prevent infections and seek early treatment when problems arise, as I mentioned before, untreated infections can cause a lot of damage.
- Do a regular check ups with a VET;
- Thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after swimming and bathing;
- Cleaning dog ears at home
As always if you have any questions let us know and remember that healthy dog is a happy doggo.
Stay safe my friends,