More Information On Ear Infections In Dogs And Cats
Otitis Externa & How To Treat Them
Repeated ear infections are occasionally an indication of sluggish thyroid gland function. You can read about that problem here.
Ron Hines DVM PhD
.Lots of my articles are plagiarized and altered on the web to market products and services. There are never ads running or anything for sale with my real articles. Try to stay with the ones that begin with http://www.2ndchance.info/ in the URL box or find all my articles at ACC.htm.
In 2004, I received three excellent articles published on otitis in pets. The first, covering common causes of this problem you can read here. The second, covering treatment options, you can read here, and the third, covering infections that have penetrated deeper into the middle ear is available here.
One of the most frequent problems veterinarians see in pets are inflammations and infections of the ear. It is the second most common reason that dogs are brought to veterinary hospitals and the seventh most common reason cats are. The medical term for this is otitis. The first sign of this problem is your pets shaking its head or pawing at its ear. Soon it may begin to tip it's head to the most bothersome side. With time, the condition often becomes quite painful.
Why Are Dogs So Susceptible To Ear Infections?
There are four common reasons why pets have frequent bouts of otitis. The first three are due to how we have bred ear-shape over the years that dogs have become man’s best friend.
What About Cats?
Ear mites are the leading cause of ear infections in cats. If mites are still present, they can be killed easily with a number of medications your veterinarian dispenses. If mites are not present in your cat and it is still subject to repeated ear problems, it should be tested for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia. If you have multiple cats, they all need to be treated.
Are There Other Causes?
In the Southern USA, veterinarians see quite a few ear problems in large breed dogs that are associated with swimming in swimming pools and stagnant fresh water.
Otitis is are also seen associated with abnormal ear wax formation. In some dogs, the normally oily wax is replaced with a cheesy coagulated material that builds up within the ear canal. Perhaps this is a genetic problem.
There is controversy as to the part hypothyroidism might play in leading to chronic otitis in some pets.
Overweight and obese pets are more susceptible to ear problems because the amount of air that can circulate within their ear canals is limited.
What Can I Do For My Pet ?
Whatever the cause of your dogs ear problems, there are some general guidelines that apply in all cases.
The first is to not give up hope. It is bothersome to you and painful to your pet, but otitis can be cured or at least controlled. It just takes persistence. The first thing to do is to attempt to eliminate the cause. If fleas are present, use one of the modern methods of flea control. If other allergies are suspected, try a hypoallergenic diet available through your veterinarian or one you prepare yourself. Use it for a minimum of 90 days before deciding if it is helpful.
Remove The Hair From The Ear Canals
Hair growing within the ear canals can be plucked out with forceps. This is not as painful to the dog as you might think. Blunt the ends of the forceps and polish them with a flame so they can not injure your pet's ears. A caring veterinarian or groomer should be able to supply you with a pair of hemostats (forceps) and instruct you in using them to remove the offending hair. A puff of talcum powder or starch will help you grip the hair.
Keep The Ear Canal Acidic
Conditions within the ear can be change with medications to discourage the growth of bacteria and yeast. Most of these products make the ear canal more acid. Yeast and bacteria do not grow well in an acidic medium. I like formulas for ear washes that combine propylene glycol, boric and salicylic acid. The ear canal should be filled with this liquid and then vigorously massaged. When you finish, allow the dog to shake his head rigorously to sling out the wax and debris. Often, this treatment , done weekly or monthly, is sufficient to cure the pet or keep the problem under control. Remember that dogs and cats that have had an incident of ear problems are quite at risk of having them again. So you may want to continue weekly applications of these otic solutions indefinitely.
The Problem With The Long-term Use Of Antibiotics
Veterinarians will often send you home with eardrops or a tube of ear ointment. These ointments contain antibiotics to kill bacteria, anti fungal compounds to kill yeast and corticosteroid to decrease inflammation and itching. All these medications bring fast relief. However, with continued use, new, resistant bacteria emerge. Try not to obtain the same antibiotic formulation twice in a row. Alternate products to reduce the chances of resistant bacteria developing. Emerging resistance is why, whenever possible, I use non-antibiotic, bacteriostatic, ear washes rather than ear ointments and drops that contain antibiotics.
If and when medical treatment is not enough, there are two surgical procedures, which are very successful in curing ear problems or , at least, bringing long term relief to your pet. If the middle and inner ears are still intact, the ear canal can be surgically shortened and bent downward to facilitate good drainage. This procedure is called a Zep Otoplasty, otoplasty . If the middle and/or inner ear is already involved a more radical surgery called ear canal ablation or or subtotal ablation is quite successful in bringing permanent relief to your pet. The quality of life after these procedures is very good. It is so rewarding to me to see these pets finally free of pain. Read more about that surgical option here.