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If you notice your pooch constantly scratching at his ears, whining and shaking his head on a frequent basis, that his ears are red and swollen or that pus is emanating from one or both of them, he may have an ear infection. Ear infections are extremely common in canines and just as they are when we experience them, they are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, if your pooch is prone to infections, he is likely to get them all the time and from just about any sort of trigger, including bacteria, yeast and mites. Fortunately, treating an infection in a dog is relatively straightforward, and there are ways to prevent future occurrences. At the United Veterinary Center, our doctors want to help you get your pet’s infections under control. While we do this partially through careful diagnosis and treatment, we also educate dog owners so that they can plan an active part in their pet’s health too.

If your canine is susceptible to infections, this post is designed to tell you everything you need to know about dog ear infections, including the different types of infections, symptoms to look out for, possible causes and treatment.

Common Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

Dogs can develop three types of conditions of the ears: otitis externa, media and internal. Each of these is fairly common in all canines but are especially common in dogs with floppy ears such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. However, 20 percent of all dogs, across all breeds, are plagued by infections.

Otitis externa means that the inflammation lies on the outside, in the lining of the external portion of the canal. When you, your child or your pet experiences pain in the ear, it is most likely due to otitis externa. Most problems start out as otitis externa but if not treated, it can travel to the inner and middle portions of the canal, causing otitis media and interna. If allowed to progress this far, it could result in deafness, facial paralysis or vestibular disease. To prevent any of these conditions befalling your precious pooch, it is imperative that you have him examined and treated at the first signs of otitis externa.

Signs Your Dog Has an Infection

Signs of an ear infection are relatively obvious and hard to miss. They can include:

  • Scratching on or around the ear
  • Redness or swelling
  • Crusts or scabs as a result of aggressive and continuous scratching
  • Hair loss around the area
  • Rubbing his head on the carpet, your leg or pieces of furniture
  • A bad smell
  • Pus or discharge
  • Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
  • Constant head shaking or drastic head tilt
  • Loss of balance
  • Weird eye movements (disorientation)
  • Walking in circles
  • Hearing loss

Hopefully you’re able to informally diagnose an ear condition by the first few signs, such as scratching, scabbing and pus, but if you do not, your pet will continue to demonstrate signs that gradually worsen as the infection does.

Possible Causes of Ear Infections

There are usually triggers for infections, as most don’t just arise out of nowhere. Some possible and common causes for your dog’s condition could be any one of the following, or even a combination of a few of these:


How you raise your dog, what you allow him to do and what you feed him all play a role in his overall health. For instance, if you let your dog go swimming or splash around in the tub, he could have water trapped in his canal on a constant basis, which could result in the canine equivalent of “swimmer’s ear.” If you feed your dog human foods and neglect a more natural diet of raw meats and vegetables, he may not be receiving the nutrients he needs to fight off infections, thereby making him more susceptible to certain problems and conditions. If you let your pup trollop through the woods after you while you’re on a walk or go foraging through brush, he could get foxtails in there that you may not notice until they have already wreaked havoc.


Diet goes hand in hand with lifestyle but we feel it deserves its own point. Canines need a diet full of protein and natural veggies, and one that is limited in carbohydrates. If the food you feed your furry friend contains a lot of carbs, it could contribute to yeast infections or trigger a food allergy you’re unaware of.


If you have hay fever, you likely know all about the tingling sensation you get in your ears right before your allergies come on full force. Dogs react in much the same way when they’re struck by an allergy attack. However, in order to resolve your dog’s problems if allergies are the cause, you will need to get to the root of his allergies first.


Your dog’s ears themselves may be the very source of his problems. If your pooch has floppy ears, it is up to you to clean them regularly to eliminate buildup, discharge or yeast growth.

Excessive Cleaning

On the other hand, if you clean your dog’s ears too much you may accidentally prevent the growth of good bacteria. Wax is meant to protect your dog, and a little goes along ways towards keeping out the bad stuff. Additionally, overusing cleaning substances, no matter how natural, can result in irritation and actually aggregate an existing condition. As with most things in life, moderation is key.

Foreign Bodies

Mites are a common parasite infection and type of mange that normally attacks dogs. Like louse, mites are extremely contagious and commonly affect the young. They itch terribly, causing young canines to scratch excessively at their heads until they bleed. You can usually rule out (or diagnose) mites by simply inspecting your dog’s ears. If he has mites, you’ll notice little black bumps in the ear and along the outer edges.

Other Causes

Other chronic conditions such as hypothyroidism or auto-immune disease can result in ear infections in dogs as well. If this is the case with your pooch, be prepared to deal with a lifelong battle, as it’s difficult to eradicate entirely problems that stem from chronic disorders.

Your pet may also have a hematoma, which is a pool of blood between the cartilage of the ear flap and the skin.

Diagnosing Canine Ear Infections

A veterinarian can usually tell right away if a dog suffers from an infection, and via a quick examination of their canal and drum. In fact, you are probably familiar with the procedure and tools required of it, as vets use the same magnifying cone on dogs as doctors do on humans. However, whereas you’re likely to sit still while your doctor probes your ear, your pooch is not. The vet may request to have your dog sedated so she can get a thorough look at your dog’s canal and drum. If necessary, they will take a sample of the discharge to determine whether bacteria, yeast or parasites is the cause of your pet’s pain. Most vets have to send their samples out to a lab but because we have a lab here at the United Veterinary Center, we can run it over and have the results back on the same day.

Treating a Dog’s Infection

Depending on the cause of your dog’s condition, treatment may vary. Your vet may prescribe a topical ointment if she determines that the infection is still outside the ear and caused by something external, like mites or foxtails. However, if the cause has to do with allergies, diet, lifestyle or some other chronic condition, your vet may recommend systematic antibiotics to kill the source of the infection for good. As with people antibiotics, it is imperative that your dog receives the recommended dose each day in order for his antibiotics to do their job.

There are natural remedies you can try out on your pooch such as cleaning your pup’s ear with apple cider vinegar and then squirting a mixture of the vinegar with water into your dog’s canal. Mullein is a plant with antibacterial properties that supposedly works great for infections, as is oregano oil, calendula and coconut oil. However, there is no scientific backing behind any of these home remedies, just hearsay. If you want to swiftly and effectively resolve your pet’s issues, it is best to seek the medical help of a trained veterinarian.

Preventing Dog Ear Infections

In order to prevent canine ear aches you need to know what is causing them. Sometimes prevention is as simple as wiping down your dog’s ears after he gets a bath or goes swimming, while in other cases it’s a bit more complicated, such as identifying food allergies and eliminating those foods from his diets. A trained vet can help you identify the cause of your dog’s chronic infections and devise a way to get rid of them once and for all.

If your pooch suffers from chronic ear aches, know that he is not alone. However, just because dogs are susceptible to infections doesn’t mean your pooch should have to live with them. If you notice any of the signs of a problem—scratching, redness, swelling, pus or any of the others—schedule an appointment with the United Veterinary Center to get to the root of your dog’s issues and to get him on the path to optimal health today.


Though there aren’t any weight watcher programs for dogs, it is still possible for your dog to be overweight. Dogs, like humans, need a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of exercise to maintain a healthy figure and to ensure a long, fulfilling life. Also like humans, dogs are susceptible to dangerous conditions that result from obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions and stroke. If you are concerned about your pup’s weight, it might be a good idea to have a veterinarian take a look at him just to be sure. If the vet determines that your dog is, in fact, over the normal weight, he or she will put your pup on a strict diet and recommend a certain exercise regime.

However, there are ways that you can tell if your pup is overweight on your own too. Look for the signs of an overweight dog below to make sure your pup doesn’t demonstrate any of them and, if he does, to get him on a healthier routine before he experiences any major health complications.

Signs of Unhealthy Weight Gain and Obesity

Your Dog Has No Definition

Dogs can have a figure too! In fact, dogs, no matter their breed, should have a figure. This means that you should be able to look down on him and see a clear outline of his hips, waist and shoulders. His waist should be tapered and thinner than the rest of his body (but not too thin, because that’s unhealthy too!). If your pup looks like a blob or a sausage link, he is overweight and you should contact a veterinary professional at the United Veterinary Center right away for advice.

Your Pup Has Trouble Breathing

Trouble breathing is a very bad sign indeed. If your pup wheezes after walking short distances, breathes heavily when eating or has trouble pushing air in and out of his lungs after performing the most basic of tasks, it’s time to put him on a diet. Trouble breathing is an indicator of clogged arteries, which can quickly lead to more extensive health issues.

You Can’t Feel Your Dog’s Ribs

While you don’t want to be able to see your pup’s ribs, you certainly want to be able to feel them when you pet him. Stroke your dog’s fur and determine whether or not you can feel his ribs through a thin layer of muscle or fat. If you have to press too hard, your dog may be slightly overweight.

Your Pup Can’t Groom Himself

Dogs should be able to groom themselves naturally without trouble, and if yours is struggling to reach all the necessary places, he is overweight. Not only is this bad for his internal health, but the inability to groom himself means that he is susceptible to skin conditions, mites and other parasites as well.

Your Dog is Constipated

Dogs on a healthy diet are regular, but dogs that are overweight tend to be constipated and gassy. If your dog is regularly stinking up the house, or if you’ve noticed that you haven’t picked up after your dog in awhile, look for other signs of weight gain to determine if that is the problem. If the other signs don’t add up, your dog may have another present condition, which you should have checked out by your vet right away.

Your Pup Has Trouble Moving

If your furry friend isn’t as active as he once was yet he’s still young, it may be because of his diet. Moreover, if your dog demonstrates difficulty moving around, such as hopping up and down from the couch, moving towards his food bowl or even rolling over, he is definitely overweight and should be seen by a vet right away.


Getting Your Pup Back On Track

If your puppy is overweight, there are steps you can take at home to get him back to a healthy weight right away. Use these seven tips to guide your dog back to a healthy lifestyle:

Measure Meals

Veterinarians recommend a certain amount of food for each individual dog because they know what is healthy and what is not. That being said, the best tool you have against weight gain is a measuring cup. Never “guestimate” how much food your dog should have—always measure it out. If your vet recommends one cup a serving, three servings a day, give him precisely that. Giving him too much at once (as in all three servings at once) will make it more difficult for him to digest and will slow down his metabolism.

Calculate Calories

Another way you can determine how much your pup needs to eat each day to remain healthy, calculate the amount of calories he should be taking in each day. And don’t think you can trust the numbers on the dog food bag, as those guidelines are formulated for un-spayed or un-neutered, active adult dogs. If your pooch is older and neutered, and if he spends most of his days indoors, you may be feeding him one to two cups too many each day, which can result in significant weight gain. Ask your veterinarian how many calories your pup should consume each day or calculate it yourself by using the following formula: [(pet’s weight in lbs/2.2) x 30] +70. This should give you a general idea of how many calories it is safe for your pet to consume each day.

Cut Out Carbs

If you were trying to lose weight, what would be the first thing you’d eliminate from your diet? Chances are you said carbs. Eliminate carbs from your pooch’s diet by buying low- or no-grain foods that are high in protein. You’ll be surprised by how quickly he begins to shed those pounds!

Treat Him Tactically

Are you big on giving your friend treats for every little accomplishment he makes, or even “just because”? While your pup may love you for this, it can be extremely detrimental to his health, as dog treats are generally high in calories, sugar and fats (hence, why they’re so delicious). If you want to continue treating your pet, opt for all natural solutions, like chicken treats or natural jerky. Hand them out sparingly too, as anything in excess can pose health complications.

Don’t Skimp on the Veggies

It’s understandable that your pooch loves his beef, but if you want him to grow big and healthy (and big as in strong, not overweight), make sure he has a balanced diet of protein and vegetables. You don’t even have to worry about finding vegetarian dog food either—just head on over to your local farmer’s market and grab some carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers or anything with a crunch that your dog will love to chew on, and that will give him his much needed dose of vegetables.

Consider Supplements

If your pooch is severely overweight, you might want to talk to your veterinarian about vitamin supplements. Supplements such as daily omega-3 fatty acid and fish oil help to keep the pounds off, and have even been proven to prevent and treat numerous diseases. L-carnitine aids with weight gain and promotes lean muscle mass, so as your vet about this as well.

Get Moving

Finally, your efforts will only be as successful as how hard you work. If you’re serious about helping your pup shed those pounds, put on your jogging shorts and get jogging, pet in tow. Start small by taking your dog on a short walk through the neighborhood. Increase your distance by fifteen or so more feet each day. It may seem insignificant, but before you know it, you and your pup will be doing laps around the neighborhood with ease. He’ll be all the healthier for your efforts, and so will you!


Consult the Professionals at the United Veterinary Center

At the United Veterinary Center, we’re concerned about your pup’s health, and you should be too. If you notice signs of unhealthy weight gain in your pooch, consult with a dog health care professional at our animal clinic about what you need to do to help your dog shed those pounds. While the above advice can certainly help you help your dog, they are simply guidelines. Each dog is different, so before you make any major changes in your dog’s routine, schedule a visit with our caring veterinarians today.


A dog can be a person’s best friend, which is why it is so important to be extra vigilant in the care of your pup. From eating right to exercising frequently, and from getting vaccinations to receiving proper training, your dog requires a lot of special attention if you want to ensure that he lives a long, healthy and happy life. One big way that you can make sure that your pup sees old age is to follow a standard health care plan set forth by your dog’s veterinarian.


While each dog’s medical schedule is going to vary based on breed, size, age and individual needs, this canine care plan can give you an idea of what to expect once you adopt your life-long friend.


8 Weeks

your puppy first vet visit - plan for his healthCongratulations on your new puppy! At 8 weeks, your puppy is ready to come home with you. However, before you introduce him to your home, family members and other pets, take him to the veterinarian first. You should already have an appointment scheduled at this point so that your puppy can get his very first wellness check and receive his first weight and body conditioning score.


You can also expect…

  • Internal parasite screen
  • DAPP vaccine
  • First preventative medications
  • Heartworm medication


Your vet should also discuss with you proper training techniques, dietary and nutritional needs, what type of behavior to expect from your puppy, housetraining techniques, proper grooming, parasite management and appropriate toys for your pup based on his size and breed.


12 Weeks

At this point, your pup will have been with you for one whole month. Congratulations! No doubt your vet will want to discuss with you how house and behavioral training is going, as well as if you have any questions or concerns regarding your pup’s growth. Additionally, you can expect the vet to give your dog his second comprehensive physical exam and again receive a weight and body conditioning score.


You can also expect…

  • Rabies vaccine
  • Second DAPP vaccine
  • Flea and tick medications
  • Heartworm medication


16 Weeks

At 16 weeks, your puppy is likely growing rapidly, becoming more curious and learning to enjoy the great outdoors. As a result, his 16-week checkup will focus on his diet and include an additional vaccine—his Lyme vaccine. Of course, he will receive his standard comprehensive exam as well as a weight and body conditioning score.


You can also expect…

  • Nutritional assessment
  • Third DAPP vaccine
  • Flea and tick medications
  • Heartworm medication
  • First Lyme vaccine


18 Weeks

In order to ensure that your dog does not contract Lyme disease, you will need to schedule an appointment two weeks after he receives his first dose of the vaccine. At this appointment, he will simply receive his second dose of the vaccine—no exam required!


4 to 6 Months

At this stage in your puppy’s life, he or she is becoming a teenager. And, like with most teenagers, his or hers reproductive organs are starting to develop. Now is the time when you want to neuter them. While it is not necessary to neuter your pup, it is recommended, especially if you are not a licensed and certified breeder. Additionally, if you adopted your pet from a shelter, most shelters require owners to provide proof of spay or neuter within six months of adoption.


You can also expect…

  • Presurgical blood draw
  • Spay or neuter
  • Pre-surgery dental exam (any remaining baby teeth may need to be removed)
  • Third Lyme vaccine
  • Flea and tick medications


1 to 4 Years

Happy Birthday to your pup! Now that he is a year old, you can space out his visits to once a year. At his yearly checkup, he will receive a comprehensive physical, a weight and body conditioning score and a nutritional assessment. At this point, your dog should be big and healthy, and at least halfway to his full grown size. Your vet should be able to tell you what more your dog needs to develop properly, if anything.


You can also expect…

  • Blood work (junior early detection profile)
  • DAPP vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Lyme vaccine
  • Heartworm/tick disease screen
  • Heartworm and flea and tick medications
  • Internal parasite screen
  • Additional vaccines (optional)
  • Dental scaling and polishing


5 to 8 Years


Your puppy is a puppy no longer, and is actually a middle-aged canine. At this point in his life, he is susceptible to more illness and injury, which it is so important that he see the vet a little more frequently and that you keep up with his yearly and tri-yearly (DAPP) vaccines. Your vet will request that you bring your dog in twice a year at this point for a semi-annual physical exam, a weight and body conditioning score and a nutritional assessment.


You can also expect…

  • Blood work (standard early detection profile)
  • DAPP vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Lyme vaccine
  • Heartworm/tick disease screen
  • Heartworm and flea and tick medications
  • Internal parasite screen
  • Additional vaccines (optional)
  • Dental scaling and polishing


8+ Years

Your pup has officially made it to old age at this point. A whopping 56 years old in human years, he has been able to receive the senior discount for a whole year now! After you celebrate, schedule his bi-yearly checkups. Every six months, your vet will conduct a thorough physical exam and nutritional assessment, as well as provide a weight and body conditioning score.


You can also expect…

  • Blood work (senior early detection profile)
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Limited vaccines, and only as necessary
  • Heartworm/tick disease screen
  • Heartworm and flea and tick medications
  • Internal parasite screen
  • Dental scaling and polishing


While it is always important to consult with your veterinarian about what, exactly, your dog needs to live a long, healthy and fulfilling life, this guide can help you to know what to expect in terms of healthcare for your puppy. If you are considering adopting a puppy or adult dog, only do so if you are prepared to keep up with a healthcare schedule similar to this one, as veterinarians designed it to ensure optimal health for all dog breeds.


Bookmark this page and share it on social media so that you can find it more easily when it’s finally time to take home your new pet. For ongoing tips for caring for your canine at every stage of his life, subscribe to our email newsletter; include your puppy’s age and details regarding its breed for reminders about when it’s time to visit the United Veterinary Center.

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