Ototos Externa in dogs and cats
Otitos externa is an inflammation of the ear canal. Ototis externa is common in dogs and cats and can be caused by many different things. It can be associated with other skin problems such as allergies caused by food or plants, bacterial infections, foreign bodies such as grass seeds and parasites like mites. Sometimes there may be factors predisposing your animal to developing ototis externa. Excessive moisture, increased humidity or lots of hair in the ear canal, narrow ear canals or obstruction of the ear canal can all be underlying causes. A humid narrow ear canal promotes retention of moisture and this provides an excellent environment for bacteria to grow.
Chronic ototis externa can result in long term changes to the ear such as narrowing of the canal and this in turn can make the problem, such as infection, worse and also more difficult to treat.
Your animal may have a sudden onset of problems or they may have been having problems long term or on and off. Most commonly head shaking and rubbing/scratching at or near the ear are seen. There may be a discharge from the ear and your animal may appear in pain when his/her ear/head are touched.
Your vet will thoroughly examine your pets’ ears to try and determine the underlying problem. In simple cases this may involve examination with an otoscope during the consultation. In more complicated or chronic cases sedation or general anaesthetic may be required to examine and/or clean the ear more thoroughly and/or more extensive testing may be required.
Treatment of ototis externa involves cleaning and drying the ear and using medications if appropriate. Your vet may prescribe a combination of topical and/or oral medications. In most cases it is important to thoroughly clean the ear to remove any debris. This also keeps the canal dry and, if required, allows other topical medication to reach the infection if required.
Your vet will supply you with all the required medications. To clean the ears fill the ear canal with solution and rub/massage the entire length of the ear canal. A cloth/swabs or such can then be used to wipe out the fluid and any debris. A finger covered with a swab/cloth can be used to clean deeper into the ear canal but never use cotton buds in animals' ears. If you are using a cleaner prior to other medication allow at least 30 minutes after cleaning to allow the canal to dry properly before putting anything else in the ear.
If using topical medications, follow the instructions given to you, place the appropriate amount of drops/cream in to the ear and massage these in well to allow full penetration of the medication. Your vet will advise you on the frequency and length of time each medication needs to be used.
Re-checks if requested are very important. If the problem is not cleared up fully, chronic problems can develop and as mentioned previously can result in permanent damage to your animals’ ear.