Your dog’s ears may be adorable, but their anatomy also makes them prone to developing infections. Dog ears yeast infection issues can quickly become chronic, but knowing what causes them and how to prevent them isn’t as challenging as you may think.
We have a guide to ear yeast infections in dogs, including symptoms, potential treatment, and prevention techniques to keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come.
The Anatomy of Your Dog’s Ears
To understand how dogs can develop a yeast infection in their ears, you first have to understand your dog’s ears. Although there are a lot of similarities between how our pets’ bodies function and our own, your dog’s ears have a slightly different structure that makes them more prone to developing ear infections.
There are three parts of a dog’s ear — the inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear. These three parts work together to help your dog hear but also to help them balance.
The inner ear is where both essential parts of that functionality originate. The vestibular system, known as the organ of balance, and the spiral-shaped cochlea, which allows your dog to hear, are located the furthest inside the ear canal. Being deep inside the ear also gives them an extra layer of protection from damage due to external trauma.
The middle ear has a lot more working parts. It houses the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and multiple tiny muscles and bones. The middle ear is also connected to the back of the nose via the eustachian tube, which allows small amounts of air in.
And finally, the outer ear. The outer ear consists of all the parts you can see when you look at your dog. The actual “ear” itself is known as the pinna. In addition to looking cute, they are also designed to capture sound waves and funnel them into the ear canal, which transports them to the eardrum. The canine ear canal is far deeper than the human ear canal, which explains why dogs can hear four times better than we can (and at much higher frequencies).
What Is Yeast and How Does It Get Inside My Dog’s Ears?
Yeast is a fungus, and two types of yeast are most frequently found in dogs’ ears — Candida and Malesszia. Both types are not abnormal and are often a normal part of the microbiome. The problem happens when they are allowed to grow out of control, triggering an infection.
The size and shape of your dog’s ear canal have a lot to do with why they are so prone to developing yeast infections. Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments, and the depth of the ear canal gives them just that (especially if your dog loves to swim in the summer or gets regular baths.
Dog ears and yeast infections may go hand-in-hand if your dog is also dealing with an underlying condition that impacts the ears, like allergies, a ruptured ear drum, or a polyp inside the ear canal. Dogs with “floppier” ears, like Bassett Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, are also at increased risk, so it’s important to stay vigilant with their health.
As a side note, dogs who deal with chronic yeast can also develop it on other parts of their bodies, especially their feet. This can lead to a vicious cycle, where your dog uses its paw to scratch its ear, continuing the spread of yeast between the two indefinitely.