A yeast infection is very easy to spot: A dog will rub his ear or tilt his head often. There may be waxy residue or scabs around the ear openings.
Yeast may develop from an ear infection, allergies, a bacterial infection, a ruptured eardrum, a tumor or polyp within the ear canal or a trapped object. Trapped water (from swimming or frequent bathing) or trapped debris (mold, dust, feathers or smoke) in the ear can also lead to the development of yeast.
An infection found in the dog’s outer ear is very easy to treat. If the infection reaches the middle ear or inner ear, deafness may result. A yeast infection may also manifest itself on the dog’s skin as a scab or a red, crusty (yucky) blotch.
Other signs to look for: brown, yellow or bloody discharge from the ear, odor, redness or swelling of the ear, crusted skin on the ear flap, loss of hair around the ear, head shaking, loss of balance, loss of hearing, walking in circles or unusual eye movements.
Typical treatments for an outer ear infection will include a topical antifungal ointment. A middle ear infection may require systemic (tablets or injections) medications. Surgery may be required and can take up to six weeks to fully recover from. The ear will be fully cleaned and if it becomes a persistent problem, you may need to find special cleansers or ear drying solutions you can use at home.
Dogs with floppy ears seem to be more prone to ear infections. Also dogs, like Schnauzers, that have hair that grows in the inner ear canal are often prone. Any dog that has allergies can develop ear infections regularly too.
Preventions include routine inspections of the ears for discharge, odors or swelling. After playtime (or bathing) in water, thoroughly drying the outer part of the ears can help. If your dog has hair in or around his ears, ask your groomer to trim it frequently.