Ear Infection (Canker or Otitis Externa)
Ear Infections usually affect the outer ear (Otitis Externa), which is painful. If untreated, they quickly grow to affect the inner ear too, which is not only painful but highly disturbing for your dog. Since a dog's ears are so crucial to its wellbeing (dogs listen more and better than they watch, we watch more and we listen hardly), you must ensure the best care for the ears of your German Shepherd.
Who Gets Ear Infections
Ear Infections are most common in dogs with floppy ears that do not get enough air to absorb moisture. Therefore German Shepherds are somewhat lucky here since their ears are generally upright anyway. However, moisture and dirt particles can get trapped in the ear and an infection can quickly form if you are not watchful. German Shepherd puppies with their floppy ears need extra care.
Both fungus and yeast are common factors in Ear Infections, in particular while the ears are floppy. Also common are Ear Infections as a result of ear mites, bacteria, food allergies in general, bad hygiene, or an environmental object or substance that got into the ear and now causes problems.
Particularly high risks are swimming in standing (and therefore often infested) water, prowling through the woods or high bushes, fights with other dogs, a draft at your dog's crate (or wherever you have your German Shepherd sleep or doze), and dust.
The warning signs of an Ear Infection are excess ear wax, red inflammation, bad odor from the ears, constant scratching, shaking the head frequently, or general discomfort in your dog’s behaviour.
Avoiding and Treating Ear Infections
To avoid Ear Infections, inspect your dog’s ears and ear canal daily or at least every other day and look out for the warning signs mentioned above. Clean your dog’s ears very carefully and remove the wax buildup, but don’t use anything with a sharp end. You can use this top ear cleanser and these cotton buds. Carefully roll the cotton buds inside the ear, but do not get deep into the ear! You must always be able to still see the cotton-covered end clearly, or else you would affect the delicate inner ear! The same applies when you use cotton buds for your own ears.
To treat an existing Ear Infection, you should initially visit the vet, so that they can diagnose the cause of the infection and make sure that the inner ear has not yet been affected. Note that an Ear Infection poses a severe threat to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing, and it is crucial to prevent that the infection affects the ear drum and inner ear too. Inner Ear Infections can easily spread to other parts of the body or create damaging high fevers that could kill your German Shepherd.
Again, typically many vets will then prescribe antibiotics - which are unnecessary here and often ineffective too. Instead, antibiotics will most likely make the Ear Infection chronic.
Therefore, once you have the diagnosis of the vet as described above, actual treatment in this case can be left to yourself (home treatment). In this case, to treat an existing Ear Infection (and to prevent a chronic Ear Infection to reoccur), use the top pet ear treatment without hydrocortisone first. This best remedy works well in almost every case, so that the sister product with hydrocortisone is not needed. Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid, a hormone, and therefore it can have dramatic side effects with impact on seemingly unrelated body functions.
Remember, our aim should always be to get the correct diagnosis, and then to use the most appropriate treatment with the least side effects (especially long-term side effects). The Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment without Hydrocortisone is the most appropriate (and effective) remedy to treat Ear Infections. You can also use this on a weekly maintenance schedule to avoid future infections. Likewise, you can even try this on other Skin Infections too (see 16), and many dog owners have done this with great success.
However, for the same reason (side effects), you should not use the sister product, Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone on a maintenance schedule or on other Skin Infections. I hope you see, with every chapter better, why generally our advice makes so much sense. It simply is educated common sense.