What is causing my dog to shake his head and scratch at his ears?

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Yes, the FamilyPet.com veterinarian is IN! In each issue, Dr. Lisa Lippman, DVM, offers an explanation – and advice – to pet parents on perplexing pet queries. This month’s question:

What is causing my dog to shake his head and scratch at his ears?

Most likely your dog has an ear infection caused by any of the following – allergies (food or environmental), parasites and yeast or bacteria. Do the look and sniff test to see if you see any redness, swelling or discharge (black or brown in color) or smell an offensive odor .

Fortunately,  ear infections can be promptly treated, so do not delay in booking an appointment with your veterinarian. Expect your veterinarian to use an otoscope to thoroughly examine your dog’s ear canals to make the definitive diagnosis. Other causes of ear issues include the presence of a foreign body or polyps and masses. If necessary, your veterinarian may perform a culture test to identify the organism causing the problem so that the right medicine can be administered.

I highly recommend that you check and clean your dog’s ears monthly, using cotton balls soaked with a veterinarian-approved canine ear cleaner inside the canals. Never use cotton-swapped tips as you risk puncturing your dog’s ear drums.

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