Dog HEAD TILT

Here the dog walks with its head leaning to one side as if it is looking at the ground. The side that is tilted to the ground is usually the problem side. The problem within that ear is causing discomfort to the dog and can affect its balance and hearing. It may also be scratching at that ear which also causes more damage. Get veterinary treatment when you can as these causes can lead to more expensive problems if left untreated!

CAUSES: Ear mites, ear infection, grass seed or foreign matter in ear, haematoma.

EAR MITES can be seen with the naked eye or with the use of a microscope.
Your vet will do this for you. Treatment will involve applying drops to both ears and insecticidal rinses for the body as well. Mites can also live in the fur but they prefer ears.

EAR INFECTIONS can be secondary problems as a result of foreign matter, mites or injury (scratching). Your vet will look down the dog's ear and identify the problem. If the dog is calm enough and the infection not severe the vet may be able to clean the ear out and remove any debris.
If not the dog will have to be admitted for a general anaesthetic where the vet can do a more thorough job with no discomfort to the dog. You will be given antibiotic tablets for the dog and it may be given an antibiotic injection as well. Also ear drops for the affected ear. Because of the structure of the ear they remain moist so clearing up infections can take a while.

FOREIGN MATTER can be a grass seed, hairs, water, sand etc.
After swimming or a bath the dog can get water down its ear and it will have a head tilt. It will shake its head vigorously to try to remove it. You may be able to soak up the water with a towel or cloth applied to the inside of the ear. Do not poke any cotton buds down into the ear unless you have been shown how to. It is still possible to rupture the ear drum even though in dogs their ear canal is shaped like the letter 'L'. By gently using a piece of cloth wipe around the inside of the ear flap and the entrance of the ear. Massage the canal and the water should come out. A secondary infection may still develop in the ear as moisture and bacteria in the water have an ideal environment in the dog's ear. Dogs with long hair and floppy ears are even MORE susceptible to these sorts of problems. Pegging the ears up together on top of the dog's head (by the hair, not the ear flap) can help dry out the ears.

GRASS SEEDS: After a walk at the park or bush land or even in your own yard you may notice the dog shaking its head and with a head tilt.
If you suspect a grass seed quickly catch the dog and with someone's help, hold it still while you look down the ear. Sometimes you are able to see the tail end of the grass seed poking out of the ear. Using tweezers quickly remove the grass seed. This is REALLY irritating for the dog, so do not hesitate or miss. This is why you need someone's help. If the seed is too deep then the vet will have to remove for you. Initially the dog is very irritated by the seed and if you are not home to see it happen you may not notice a problem for a few days. Once the seed is down the ear canal it settles into the wax. The irritation is less to the dog after that. In a few days a local reaction begins and the ear becomes sore for the dog. This may be the first signs you notice. Veterinary treatment is all that can help.

HAEMATOMA of the earflap (pinna) is usually as a result of the dog shaking its head due to an irritation or infection in the ear. Some dogs are particularly prone to getting a Haematoma. The earflap swells as a result of ruptured blood vessels in the ear flap. It is very uncomfortable for the dog and as pressure builds up it becomes sore. If left the blood inside the ear flap clots and then shrinks as it is reabsorbed. This causes the appearance of the ear to shrink up also. It is commonly called 'cauliflower ear'. Surgery involves lancing the swelling and draining the blood. The ear is then compressed with sutures to prevent further bleeding. These sutures remain in place for up to 3 wks as it takes a lot longer to heal and can re-occur after suture removal.

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