Diseases and ear infections are very common in dogs, and if you notice your dog is scratching, contact your veterinarian immediately for timely diagnosis and treatment.
A very common health problem with ears in dogs is Otitis externa, or inflammation of the external ear canal (one or both).
About 10-15% of dogs have this health problem. The milder cases (if the inflammation first occurred) are relatively easy to cure.
However, if the infection recurs and becomes a chronic disease, it is necessary to investigate the cause of the disease.
In addition to inflammation of the external ear canal, in rare cases, Otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear) and Otitis internal (inflammation of the inner ear) occur.
Which breeds are most commonly affected
Some breeds are more prone to these problems. The tendency is caused, for example, by the anatomical shape of the ear.
In Sharpei and English Bulldogs, the ear canal is narrow, the Basset has a long, hanging ear shell, in breeds like Poodle and Lagoto Romagnonolo the ear canal is very hairy, in Cocker Spaniel the ear shell is long, covered with long hair.
In all these cases, due to the narrow space, heat, humidity and reduced ventilation, the ear canal creates an ideal environment for the development of a large number of bacteria and fungi.
Dogs who prefer to leave and swim (Labrador Retriever, Weimaraner) are also prone to infections, as increased moisture in the ear causes unwanted infection.
The primary causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal are, in most cases, allergies (food, fleas, mites, etc.).
Dogs with this problem, in addition to an ear inflammation, often have pinkish paw tips due to itching due to constant licking.
The cause may also be:
– parasites (such as ear mites, Demodex),
– some endocrine diseases (hypothyroidism of dogs, hyperadrenocorticism),
– immune diseases (lupus, pemphigus),
– objects (grass, hair, sand),
– skin diseases (juvenile cellulitis, seborrhea, etc.).
How to treat a dog
When your pet has an ear problem – CALL YOUR VET. He will take a medical history and inspect the entire dog, especially his skin, to find out what was the “trigger” for an ear infection.
It will examine the ear shell from the outside and the inside and with the otoscope the vertical and horizontal part of the ear canal (the ear canal is built of skin that is imprinted into the L-shaped skull).
Each dog and each ear is seen as a separate case and therapy that has been effective in one dog may not be successful in another.
Examination of the dog’s ear
An examination with an otoscope is necessary, and if it is too painful, the dog should be calmed down or introduced into short-term general anesthesia.
This determines the degree of inflammation of the ear canal, whether there are exudates and how much, the condition of the eardrum (whether it is intact, ie preserved, or cracked/cracked, indicating that the infection has spread to the middle ear).
The otoscope also determines if there is a foreign body in the ear canal. Most often, it is a grass, which sinks deep into the ear, at the eardrum, which is a painful condition for a dog that, when it happens, suddenly after a walk begins to constantly shake its head and ears, becomes very agitated and whimper.
Before cleaning the ear, the vet will take a swab from it and do a cytological smear. If the infection recurs, the swab is taken and sent for microbiological examination to determine which pathogens are involved and which drug is affected.
Most often it is a combined bacterial-fungal or parasitic infection. A veterinarian can already guess what pathogens are involved based on the color of cerumen:
– moist, brown discharge from the ear usually indicates that it is a combined infection with Staphylococcus and Malassezia;
– purulent, yellow/green discharge indicates bacteria such as Pseudomonas;
– brown cerumen indicates endocrine diseases and anaerobic bacteria;
– Dry, black-toothed on earworm.
Dog Ear Mites
If the dog has ear mites (Otodectes cynotis), the parasite will be clearly visible on the cytological smear. It is very contagious, ie it is easily transmitted to dogs and cats, potentially to humans.
The itching is very pronounced and in dogs infected with an itch on the outer ear canal, we see wounds from scratching or wet eczema on the cheek or the earlobe itself.
Scratching (the hind leg) can also cause a hematoma of the ear, which further complicates the situation, as it must be surgically repaired within seven days.
Otherwise, hematoma sprouts with connective tissue and aesthetically unacceptable thickening and “shrinking” ear shells.
Treatment of ear inflammation
If the ear canal is overgrown with hairs, it is necessary to remove the hairs to allow as much ventilation as possible. In order for the drops to affect the skin of the ear canal, it must be cleaned to allow the medicine to work.
Topical treatment (local, in the ear, external preparations) includes the following preparations:
Ear cleaning solutions (cerumenolytics)
They are necessary for any form of otitis (used in the healing process itself, but also as a preventive measure to prevent relapses by maintaining ear hygiene).
They decompose the cerumen and after they are instilled into the ear, they should act for at least 15 minutes before cleaning the ear.
Owners can clean the ear shell at home by wrapping the tip of their finger with a piece of cotton wool 15 minutes after pouring the solution and cleaning the inner surface of the ear shell.
They must leave the ear canal cleaned by a specialist, ie a veterinarian. Ear cleaning using a cerumenolytic solution should be continued after the dog has been healed as part of regular ear hygiene.
There are preparations on the market that most often contain a combination of antibiotics, corticosteroids, and antifungals.
This achieves multiple effects – against bacteria, fungi, as well as anti-inflammatory. Drops must be applied until complete cure, which in some cases can take up to two months.
What to do at Ear Mites
Topical preparations containing antiparasitics are used. It is necessary to treat the diseased dog, as well as all other dogs that are in contact with him (if he or she lives in the community anymore). Treatment usually takes 3-4 weeks.
Sometimes, due to severe itching due to allergies, systemic treatment, or corticosteroid intake, should be applied to reduce inflammation and itching.
In middle ear inflammation, systemic antibiotic administration (oral) over a longer period (several months) is sometimes necessary.
Thickening of the ear canal
In dogs with chronic otitis, these are most commonly atopic patients, or dogs with allergy problems may experience hyperplasia or thickening of the ear canal due to infection.
This makes them even more prone to infections. Such dogs require maximum ear hygiene, long-term topical and systemic treatment and constant vet supervision.