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Your dog uses their ears actively to listen to and interact with the world around them. Medical issues can seriously impact their hearing ability, reducing their overall quality of life. Here, our emergency veterinarians in Halifax discuss ruptured eardrums in dogs, including the common signs, causes and whether it is an emergency.

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What are ruptured eardrums in dogs?

The eardrum is a thin layer of tissue that sits deep inside your dog's ear canal. It separates the middle and inner ear from the external ear. The eardrum's primary function is to transmit sounds from the outer ear, through the ear canal and to the bones (ossicles) in the middle ear. These bones then pass the sounds to the brain so they can be processed. 

If the integrity and structure of the eardrum become compromised, the eardrum can rupture or tear. Unfortunately, many different issues, like severe infection, trauma and illness, can lead to a ruptured eardrum.

When looking for signs of a rupture, you might notice symptoms like your dog moving their head around strangely or vocalizing pain. Left untreated, a ruptured eardrum may eventually cause permanent hearing loss.

How to Know if Your Dog's Eardrum Has Ruptured

If your dog does not respond when you call their name, you may be inclined to believe they are just ignoring you. However, if your dog has ruptured their eardrum, they may actually be unable to hear you.

Several symptoms commonly accompany ruptured eardrums in dogs. These include:

  • Ear pain
  • Pus-like discharge from the ear
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Inflamed or red ear canal
  • Shaking their head
  • Head tilt
  • Incoordination or stumbling
  • Eyes that dart back and forth (nystagmus)
  • Paralysis of the face, including an inability to blink

What causes eardrum ruptures?

There are many possible causes of eardrum ruptures. Some may be easier to diagnose than others, and you should always seek treatment options, even if the cause isn't obvious.

Some of the typical causes of ruptured eardrums in dogs include:

  • Chronic ear infection
  • Exposure to toxins (including certain pain medications)
  • Trauma
  • Extremely loud noises
  • Foreign objects that have been lodged in the ear canal
  • Sudden changes in atmospheric pressure

When should you take your dog to the veterinarian?

You should bring your dog to Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital for emergency care right away if they show clinical signs of a ruptured eardrum. 

Our emergency veterinarians will perform a thorough physical examination and diagnostics to determine the severity of the rupture and develop a treatment plan. This may include ear flushing, antibiotic medications and in some cases, surgery. You should never give your dog medicine for their ears unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian.

You can expect your dog's recovery to take around three to six weeks if surgery is not required and your dog responds well to the treatment plan. If your dog needs surgery to repair the health issue, recovery may take longer, and you will need to bring them in for follow-up veterinary visits to monitor their ongoing condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's medical condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Contact our experienced emergency veterinary team right away if your dog begins to show signs of a ruptured eardrum. We are here 24/7 to help patients from Halifax, Dartmouth, and beyond.

Ruptured Eardrums in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

Caring for Pets in Atlantic Canada

Our specialists are pleased to accept new patients by referral from primary care veterinarians. Our emergency service welcomes all clients – 24/7/365. 

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