Outer ear infections, or otitis externa, are very common in dogs and cats. Infections may be caused by a number of factors, such as ear conformation, hair and/or moisture accumulating in the ear, and underlying health conditions such as allergies and hypothyroidism. Signs that your pet may be suffering from an ear infection are shaking of the head, scratching at the ears, red or inflamed ears, and a foul odor from the ears. If your pet is showing these signs, a physical examination is essential in diagnosing the type of infection and its best treatment.
The veterinarian will do a thorough examination of the ears and inner canals to ensure that there is no evidence of otitis media, a more severe infection of the middle ear, or other causes of ear pain (such as foreign bodies in the ear, growths in the ear canal, etc). They will also evaluate your pet’s history and the rest of his body to ensure there are no other health concerns. They then will take a swab from both ears and evaluate a cytology under the microscope to determine what type of infection is present (usually bacterial or yeast infections, in some cases both types of infection are present). The best medication for your pet will be prescribed based on this cytology.
Most simple cases of otitis externa are cleared with 2 weeks of appropriate medication. However, a recheck examination to ensure the infection is cleared at the end of 2 weeks is essential to ensure that the infection is completely gone. If the infection is cleared, using weekly ear flushes to keep the ears clean and using drying ear flush treatment after swimming and bathing can help prevent future infections. If the infection is not cleared, the veterinarian may recommend further testing or medications for underlying health issues such as allergies that are delaying your pet’s recovery.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.