Otitis Externa in Animals

By: SA Perillo

Ear infection is among the top health concerns watched out for in dogs especially in dogs that are hairy and have long floppy ears such as the Chinese sharpie chow-chows, English bulldogs, poodles and terriers, cocker spaniel and the Springer spaniels. Surveys among veterinarians concluded that ear infection is listed in the top 10 reasons why dogs are usually brought to veterinarian’s clinic for treatment.

Otitis Externa is ear infection in dogs. This common term pertains to a condition of the ear that distinguishes an inflammation of the external ear canal. Affecting up to 20% of dogs, Otitis Externa is caused by infections that include bacteria, parasites and fungus. Dogs of any age and sex may experience ear infection especially when some factors are present leading to an irritation such as dog’s long floppy ears, abnormal ear structure or anatomy, water or too much hair in the ears, allergies, trauma, parasites and other foreign materials in the ear, autoimmune diseases, or generalized skin disease.

Your dog may have Otitis Externa affecting his active lifestyle. Dog behavioral signs that you may watch out for are scratching or rubbing the ears, headshaking, or when you smell an abnormal or foul smelling discharge in the ear, or if your dog reacts painfully from a manipulation of the ear and when there’s redness or swelling in the ear canal. Although ear infection is not really a life-threatening health condition, it could lead to a severe damage to the ear canal. Otitis Externa should be identified well by veterinarians to ascertain the dog’s health concern for some other medical conditions have the some of the symptoms similar to Otitis Externa such as atopy, a skin disease in dogs; autoimmune disease like systemic or discoid lupus erythematosus or pemphigus; contact allergy, demodicosis, endocrine imbalance, food allergy, foreign bodies like foxtail awns, ear disease such as cancer, hyperplasia or polyps, ear mites parasites, sebaceous adenitis, seborrhea, trauma and tumors as well as zinc-responsive dermatosis--- all these should be considered before ascertaining that the infection is Otitis Externa.

So when you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, urgent response should be provided. Make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian for an in-depth diagnosis of the case. Amongst the possible diagnostic procedures that veterinarians implement include cytology wherein a sample of the ear discharge may be taken to the laboratory for further examination and a complete medical history and physical examination focusing attention to the ear and the skin. However, since some pets may be advised to undergo other several series of diagnostic exams especially when these dogs have repeating ear infections, have skin abnormalities and other allergic reactions to treatment therefore may have poor treatment response. For instance, radiographs or X-rays to the ear canal and bone may be advised as well as CBC or complete blood count and biochemical profile, skin scraping to check if there are parasites living underneath the skin, allergy tests that may include other drugs taken by the dog affecting irritation to the ears and lastly, culture and sensitivity that is done through examining further a sample discharge from the ear to ascertain the specific bacteria affecting the inflammation exposing them to several antibiotic samples to identify which is effective in killing them.

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