and happy with preventative maintenance
Ear disease is a frequent concern for many pet owners.
Approximately 20% of all animals brought to the veterinarian have otitis externa.
What is Otitis Externa?
Otitis externa is the inflammation of the external auditory canal.
What causes Otitis Externa?
A host of primary diseases are complicated with secondary otitis externa. The most common are:
· Atopy – an inhalant allergy characterized by scratching, paw licking and face rubbing.
· Food allergy – an allergy due to the hypersensitivity to certain food proteins or additives.
· Seborrheic conditions – characterized by the excessive production of oil in the skin and the formation of greasy scales.
· Foreign bodies - dirt, grass from lawns, loose hairs, etc. are also frequently responsible for otitis externa.
· Water or moisture – from baths, swimming, rain or high humidity.
· Hypothyroid disease.
The anatomy of the canine and feline ear is unlike that of the human ear.
There are a few distinct differences which increase the probability of ear disease.
1) The ear canal is deep and curved. This allows debris, wax and excess moisture to collect.
2) Certain breeds’ ears flap down covering the opening of the vertical canal. This does not allow proper ventilation, thus inviting bacteria and fungus to grow. Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Labrador Retrievers are highly susceptible.
3) Some breeds have extremely hairy ear canals. Poodles, Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos and other breeds that are frequently groomed should have their ears plucked regularly.
ü Excessive discharge (usually yellow, brown or black)
ü Inflammation – redness of the ear flap or canal
ü Shaking the head or ears
ü Obvious pain when touched around the ear
ü Tilting the head to one side
ü Stumbling or circling to one side
ü Lethargy or depression
ü Marked swelling of the ear flap (aural hematoma)
If your pet develops any of the warning signs of otitis externa, an otoscopic examination by Dr. Marshall is recommended. The visit will include a physical exam, ear swab, ear cleaning and probably medication and ear cleaner along with recommendations to help prevent infection in the future.
In the mean time, regular cleaning of your pet’s ears will help reduce the likelihood of infection.
Clean your pet’s ears:
v After every bath.
v If your pet gets wet from the rain or swimming.
v If your pet has a chronic ear problem (i.e. we’ve seen him for ear infections more than twice a year).
How to clean your pet’s ears
Cleaning your pet’s ears is not difficult, but can be a chore if the animal doesn’t like it. It’s best to start teaching them as puppies and kittens to let their ears be handled. If you have an adult dog or cat, teach them with a few fun sessions that messing with their ears gets them a treat.
TRAINING TIP: Gently grasp the tip of the ear and hold it up. Give a treat. Lift the ear, gently stick your finger in, give a treat. Lift the ear, put cotton ball with ear cleaner on it in the ear canal, give a treat, massage the ear, give a treat… And so on. Working with the dog (or cat) when the ear is healthy is easier, but by going slowly and rewarding the pet for allowing you to handle the ear, you will soon have a much easier time cleaning the pet’s ears.
What you will need:
Ø An ear cleaner (either the home recipe above or the cleansing solution prescribed by Dr. Marshall. Never use water or hydrogen peroxide
Ø Cotton balls – don’t use Q-Tips as they make break off if the dog shakes its head.
Ø Medication – if applicable
Ø Treats to reward the pet
Step 1 – Clean the ear canal and ear flap
Ø Soak 2-4 cotton balls with ear cleaner (more if the ear is really dirty)
Ø Lift the ear flap and stick the cotton ball into the ear, don’t worry if it gets stuck, the pet will shake it out.
o Alternately, you can pour the ear cleaner straight into the ear.
Ø Massage the base of the ear to work the cleaner down the canal, remove the cotton ball and repeat.
Ø Wipe ear flap clean as needed.
Ø Wipe ear out with a dry cotton ball.
Ø Reward pet with treats as needed throughout Step 1.
Step 2 – Apply medication if needed.
Ø Lift ear flap and apply medication as shown.
Ø Reward pet.
Ø If your pet is getting ear medication, only clean the ear canal once a week during treatment unless otherwise directed by the veterinarian.