Causes of Infection
Many problems result from moisture, fleas or ticks. Yet there are other elements to consider as well:
Mites, in particular, cause problems for the Beagle. Ear Mites are the most widespread type of mite that infests dogs and they are very transmittable, easily spreading from dog to dog or other animal to dog. These are tiny crab-like parasites that reside in the ear canals of canines, and despite the name, they can also sometimes be found anywhere on the surface of a dog's body. Once there are some on a dog, they reproduce very quickly. With a typical ear mite infection there can be thousands of mites inside of one ear.
When they first attach themselves to a dog, the begin by living on the surface of the dog’s ear canal. It is there that they eat the tiny amounts of skin tissue and ear fluid. As time goes by, they can travel to the dog’s back, neck and all over the body. They can burrow very deep into the canal. As these tiny parasites bite the skin and feed from blood, it causes swelling and itchiness. Sores often develop and then infection can set in.
Bacteria and Yeast –
Infection can be a bacterial in nature or it can be a fungi based issue. Both types thrive in dark, warm, moist areas. Sometimes it is foreign objects caught inside of the dog's ear or cleaning too deeply that can be the cause of infection.
Excess Water –
Similar to human’s “swimmer’s ear”, water can become trapped in the dog’s ear canal after swimming and this can lead to infection.
Excess Wax –
Some wax is necessary. It works to trap very fine particles, dust and debris that would otherwise travel deeper into the ear canal. However, too much wax can cause blockage in what is an already difficult area that does not receive much air circulation.
Symptoms of Mites
- Ear tissue often become swollen, this is usually visible once you lift up the Beagle ear flap.
- Intense itchiness which makes the dog shake his head, rub his head against walls and try other means of relief.
- An increase of earwax, as the body reacts to the invasion.
- Discharge, this is usually very thick – it can be any color including black.
Sometimes, Ear Hematoma can occur. This is when a pocket of blood develops between the layers of the ear cartilage and skin. It is often caused when a dog shakes his head and whips his ears due to ear mites.
Ear Mange may occur, which is the term to describe the redness and crustiness that can develops due to this.
Diagnosing - Some of the signs are similar to yeast infection and other ear problems, therefore the vet will make the diagnosis by using a lighted otoscope tool that allows him to see these miniature mites. The light that emits from this tool actually causes the mites to move out of the wax.
Treatment - The first step is for the veterinarian to clean out your Beagle’s ears. The next step is for medication to be applied. Once this is performed by the veterinarian, most owners will need to clean the ears and apply the medication at home, as well.
Because ear mites are extremely contagious, all other pets (any type) should be examined and treated at the same time.
Prevention - It can help to thoroughly dry your Beagle’s ears after baths and to always check for foreign matter in the ears. Taking your Beagle to the vet as soon as you suspect mites is the best course of action for a speedy recovery.
Symptoms of Beagle Ear Infections
Even with cleaning, problems can develop. It is important to know the signs of infection in order to obtain treatment as soon as possible. Many infections will continue to worsen until treated with proper medication. Let’s look at the most common signs of infection:
- Shaking the Head - Intense itching and/or pain can cause a Beagle to shake his head.
- Scratching at the Ears – Using his front paws, the dog may try in vain to scratch at his ears, although this does not offer relief since the itch is often deep in the canal.
- A Bad Odor – Any infection can cause quite a nasty odor. A combination of bacteria, wax and (sometimes) extra fluid, can cause a foul smell. Since flaps cover the ear opening, this may not be noticed until the owner holds up the flap.
- Discharge - Color
will vary. Brown specks can indicate dried blood. Any amount of fluid that drains is a sign of a Beagle ear infection.
- Thick Wax – While a buildup of wax can cause an infection, it is a symptom as well. For some dogs, as bacteria grows, the body responds by producing additional wax.
- Signs of Discomfort - Left untreated, the pain of infection can be quite severe. A Beagle may cry, whine and/or retreat. It is not uncommon for canines to withdraw when ill and/or have an intolerance to being touched.
Treatment - If infection is suspected, the dog should be brought to the veterinarian. The vet will look into the canal and testing will be performed to diagnosis the exact issue. In many cases a swab is used to obtain a sample from the canal which is then examined under a microscope to determine the cause. The ears may be flushed at the office.
Treatment may include: Antibiotics, topical ointments and medicated drops. Often, this will clear up within a week or two.