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Fungal Infections In Dogs' Ears: An Owner's Guide

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If your dogs is scratching his ears a lot and you're noticing redness and swelling in the area, he probably has a fungal infection in his ears. Sometimes, the fungi may also cause an odor or some flaking skin. While fungal infections of the ear may seem gross and are certainly uncomfortable for your dog, they are pretty common and easily treatable. Here's what you need to know about this common form of dog care.

What should you do about ear fungus?

In most cases, you can treat this condition at home as long as your dog allows you to handle his ears. You'll need these supplies, some of which you may need to buy from a pet store:

  • Ear cleanser (usually a liquid)

  • Cotton balls or cotton pads

  • An antifungal cream or gel that is approved for use in the ears

Start by wetting a cotton ball with the cleanser. Use this to wipe out as much of your dog's ear as you can reach without him getting uncomfortable. Let the ear dry for a few minutes, and then use either your fingers or another cotton ball to apply the antifungal cream to the ears. Be generous -- you don't want to leave an infected area uncovered.

Repeat this treatment process every day for a week. If you do not notice a marked improvement in your dog's symptoms, then contact your vet. He or she can recommend a stronger antifungal cream that will do a better job of fighting tough fungi.

What causes ear fungal infections?

Chances are, your dog contracted this infection after coming into contact with another dog who had ear fungus. Sometimes, the infection may be picked up at a groomer, at the dog park, or when your dog rubs up against another dog while walking down the street. Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections since their ears don't dry out as thoroughly.

How can you prevent subsequent fungal infections?

To keep your dog from getting another fungal infection in his ears, try to minimize his contact with other dogs. Don't let him play too closely with other dogs at the dog park, and keep him from nuzzling others he passes while you're walking. After he comes in from the rain, take a minute to dry out his ears. Keeping the hair around his ears trimmed up may also help. Use the cleanser you purchased to wipe out your dog's ears once or twice a week, too.