Ear Infections

Ear disease is the most common condition in pets. The medical name for inflammation of the outer ear canal is ‘OTITIS EXTERNA”. It is estimated that up to 20% of the dog population is affected by this disease.

Causes of ear disease:

  • Allergies –either to food or something they either inhale or that contacts their skin

  • Parasites – the ear mite, is a common cause of ear problem in cats, but less common in dogs. However, some dogs are hypersensitive to the mites and their itching can be intense, they scratch so much they severely traumatize the ear.

  • Ear infections – numerous types of bacteria and yeast. The normal, healthy ear has a good defense against these organisms, but if the ear environment changes due to allergies, hormone abnormalities, or moisture, the bacteria and yeast can greatly multiply and break down defenses.  

  • Foreign bodies – plant awns (those little stick-tights) that cling to clothes and dogs fur, can sometimes enter the ear canal. Their presence causes irritation, the dog scratches and results in a traumatized, infected ear. *When you groom your dog after a walk, be sure to check the ears, too!

  • Trauma- self inflicted trauma due to scratching.

  • Hormonal Abnormalities – deficiencies or excesses of various hormones can result in skin and ear problems. Thyroid hormone, adrenal gland, and sex hormones all influence the health of the skin and ears.

  • Ear Environment – bacteria and yeast could not ask for a better environment to live in than a warm, dark, moist ear canal. Dogs with heavy, floppy ears may have ear problems due to the excess moisture that builds up in their ears.

  • Other Causes – there are various rare hereditary diseases that occur in different breeds or lines and affect ears.

The key to healthy ears is to keep them clean and dry. Check your dog`s ears weekly. A slight amount of waxy buildup may be present in normal ears. If your dog swims a lot or has a history of ear disease, routine cleaning is recommended.

REMEMBER: If your dog is showing discomfort, the ears have a bad smell, or the ear canals look abnormal, do not delay in contacting your veterinarian. If your dog has a ruptured eardrum, some ear cleansers and medications could do more harm than good.

 

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