Ear infections are a common problem for many pets and are seen more often in dogs than in cats. Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to ear infections, especially dogs with pendulous ears (Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound) or those born with lots of hair in the ear canals (Poodle, Bichon, Lhasa Apso). Common causes of ear infections include bacteria, yeast, foreign material (especially “foxtails”), parasites (mites and ticks) and tumors or polyps.
Ear infections can involve the outer ear canal (otitis externa), the middle ear (otitis media) or both.
Failing to identify and properly treat middle ear infections is probably the single most common reason dogs experience chronic ear disease. Dogs that have repeated ear infections have a 70 -80% chance that they have suffered a ruptured ear drum and the infection is trapped in the bulla (the cavity on the other side of the ear drum). If not properly treated, the infection will return.
Whatever the cause, ear infections are painful for your pet and, if not properly diagnosed and treated, can lead to permanent hearing loss or neurologic damage.
“70-80 % of dogs with chronically infected ears have experienced a ruptured ear drum and have infection in the bulla”
-Small Animal Ear Diseases, Louis Gotthelf, DVM
How to tell if your pet is suffering from an ear infection:
- Odor and/or discharge from ear opening
- Red, swollen or inflamed ear flaps
- Pain around the head or ears
- Scratching the ear with the paws or repeated head shaking
- Scratching or rubbing the ears with a paw or on the floor or furniture
- Head tilt, loss of balance or unusual eye movements (eyes flashing side to side)
- Behavior changes including depression and irritability
- Hearing loss
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms please call us and schedule an examination. Our exam rooms are equipped with an Oto-endoscopic camera and monitor, allowing you and your veterinarian a 100 x power magnified view of the ear canals.