Golden Retrievers Ear Problems

Golden Retrievers are prone to getting ear infections – it’s a common issue that affects floppy-eared breeds. They can be caused by a number of reasons, but the good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent them, and treatment from the vet can usually clear them up.

Ear infections can be distressing for your dog and should be treated as soon as you notice any signs. The best thing to do here is to make an appointment with your vet when you notice it and start medication right away.

What Causes Ear Infections in Golden Retrievers?

Ear infections affect most Golden Retrievers at some point during their life (some more than others). These floppy-eared dogs have long hair around their ears, that holds warmth and moisture. These are ideal conditions for bacteria and yeast to grow. 

Lots of things can cause your golden retriever to develop an ear infection (and chronic ear infections):

  • Ear mites.
  • Not properly drying the ears afterward bathing or swimming.
  • Allergies.
  • Yeast overgrowth.
  • Bacteria.
  • Foreign objects in the ear.
  • Endocrine disorders like thyroid disease.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Excessive cleaning.

Signs of Ear Infections in Golden Retrievers

It’s usually quite easy to spot eat infections in Golden Retrievers. You’ll notice that your Golden can’t stop messing with their sore ear – it’s almost impossible for them to ignore the uncomfortable feeling of an ear infection.

Signs of an ear infection are:

  • Persistent scratching of the ear or surrounding area.
  • Persistent head shaking. 
  • Tilting their head to one side.
  • Rubbing their head and face on the ground.
  • A foul odour from the ear.
  • Redness inside the ear and/or ear flap.
  • Hotter skin than usual around the ear.
  • Swollen ear. 
  • Brown/yellow discharge leaking out of the ear canal onto surrounding fur.
  • Crusting or scabs around the ear.
  • Wax and debris building up around the ear canal.
  • Sensitive ears that will cause them to flinch and whine if touched.

Severe ear infections which are causing discharge or swelling should be seen by a vet ASAP – you don’t want an ear infection to fester. 

It’s probably a good idea to seek out veterinary advice if you suspect any form of ear infection, even if it’s mild. The sooner it’s treated, the easier it can be to fix.

A vet may diagnose inner ear infections (Otitis Interna), which affect the inner ear canal and may not be outwardly visible. There are also outer ear infections (Otitis Externa), which affect the outer ear flap. You may notice redness or swelling as a common sign of this type of ear infection.

What Can I Do at Home to Avoid Ear Infections?

There are many things you can do at home to help your Golden Retriever avoid ear infections:

  1. Keep up-to-date with flea and worm treatments: This keeps any foreign parasites from infecting your Goldie.
  2. Dry your Golden Retriever’s ears after bathing or swimming: Goldens have floppy ears and they don’t get much opportunity to be aired out which creates a perfect breeding ground for infection in the ear canal. Proper drying can help avoid this.
  3. Regularly check your dog’s ears as part of your care routine: You’ll be able to see if there are any foreign objects buried in the ear canal which may irritate and create grounds for infection.
  4. Buy home cleaning solutions from your vet or local pet shop: I used to clean our girl’s ears once a week with ear wash. 
  5. Create your own solution: Rather than buying it, you can find instructions online if you prefer. However, some vets advise against DIY solutions. 
  6. Use apple cider vinegar: It’s used as an antibacterial/antifungal ear cleaner by some. It’s usually diluted with water and tipped onto a cotton ball to gently cleanse the ear. You must never insert anything into your pup’s ear as this can damage their inner ear.

Remember that though you can do every preventative measure, sometimes an ear infection is inevitable. But don’t worry, there are always options to help them – read on to find out exactly what treatment there is.

Can I Use Home Remedies for My Golden Retriever’s Ear Infection?

You might be wondering if home remedies work to treat your Golden Retriever’s ear infection. The answer is yes and no. You need to be mindful of when an infection should be treated with proper antibiotics. 

Ear infections can be complicated things. Our poor girl was prone to them.

In fact, it was probably the most common reason we visited the vet. She suffered with them multiple times a year and was a real champ when it came to the drops as she knew the “Lie down, let’s see that ear” routine like the back of her paw.

Home remedies are a great preventative for ear infections. Maybe we should call it home prevention rather than a remedy in this case. This only works in certain situations. 

Sometimes only medication will help, but on occasion, a good cleaning and drying will be enough to sort the ear infection out. Some people use heat, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, or grooming to try and clean their Goldie’s ear, while others stick with cleaning during a bath or drops from the pet shop. 

Allergies and Ear Infections

If your dog has a lot of recurring ear infections and you have tried most of the above, you may be dealing with allergies. 

I was shocked to find out that a lot of golden retrievers have food allergies which can present as ear infections. Allergies affect the barrier of the skin – including the skin in their ears. They’ll become itchy, causing your Golden to itch and shake. Then, bacteria and yeast grow, which can cause inflammation and damage tissue in their ear.

Common food allergens include: chicken, beef, dairy, soy, wheat, egg, lamb, pork, rabbit, and fish. It’s also common for dogs to be sensitive to multiple allergens. 

You can ask your vet for tests to determine which allergens your dog has so you can avoid those triggers in their diet.

To learn more about allergies and health-related issues in Golden Retrievers, check out this post.

Closing Thoughts

Your poor pup may be prone to ear infections but keeping on top of preventative care will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. 

If you suspect an ear infection make sure you seek advice from your vet so you can treat it before it has a chance to turn into something serious which may impact your pup’s long-term health.

Related Questions

Why Do Golden Retrievers Get Ear Infections More Than Other Breeds?

Golden Retrievers are especially susceptible to getting ear infections for three main reasons:

1) They love swimming – so are more likely to get water in their ear.
2) They often suffer from various allergies.
3) Their ears are floppy and have long hair which traps moisture and dirt.

These three reasons increase the chance of them developing an ear infection, and can be the reason why they have reoccurring ear infections no matter how hard you try to prevent them.

How Long Do Golden Retriever Ear Infections Usually Last?

With the right medicine, a Golden Retrievers’ ear infection will usually clear up within one to two weeks. However, this can be longer, and you might find that it’s a recurring ear infection that routinely flares up. Not identifying or properly treating the infection can cause it to last even longer.

Do Golden Retriever Ear Infections Go Away on Their Own?

No, an ear infection in a Golden Retriever won’t usually clear up by itself. Though you can help by cleaning their ear and trying home remedies, the only guaranteed way to get rid of the infection is by getting and using mediation from the vet.

Are Golden Retriever Ear Infections Contagious?

This depends on the type of ear infection, but most Golden Retriever ear infections aren’t contagious. However, if they have ear mites, these are highly contagious and you’ll have to be extremely vigilant to try and prevent them from spreading. Your vet should be able to advise you if the ear infection is contagious or not, and what to do about it.

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