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Ear Disease in Dogs


Fact file: Ear disease

 Does your pet show signs of head shaking and ear scratching?  These are commonly seen in pets and combined with other symptoms such as ear redness and discharge could all point to ear disease as a problem.

 The ear is protected externally by a pinna (or flap).  A narrow ear canal carries sound to the ear drum where it passes onto the middle and inner ear.

 Unlike the situation in humans where middle and inner ear disease is common, most of the problems seen in pets occur in the external ear canal ­ an often very painful condition called otitis externa.

 Virtually all otitis externa is triggered by an underlying cause.  Some common underlying causes include:

 Ear mite (Otodectes cynotis) infestations which are commonly seen in puppies (and kittens)

  • Trapped foreign bodies such as grass awns
  • Localised allergic skin disease affecting the skin lining the external ear canal ­ often as part of a more generalised skin condition.  Inhaled allergies and food allergies will commonly present in this way.

 In order to effectively treat ear disease, it is important to determine the underlying cause of the problem.  However, this is often obscured and made worse by secondary opportunistic bacterial and fungal infections.

 If your pet is showing symptoms of ear disease (any of the signs as outlined above) it is important that your vet examines them and establish the underlying cause of the problem as soon as possible.  This will involve an examination of your pet’s ear and in some case further lab tests.  In common with many conditions, early diagnosis and treatment gives the best chance of curing ear disease in pets.

Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.  w: Follow us on Facebook