Cause: Dog & cat’s ears have a relatively long narrow bent downward facing ear canal, & some have floppy/hairy ears. This means that the canals don’t easily drain. Animals also have a much higher tendency to get inflamed skin as a result of allergies. It is a vicious circle beginning with inflamed or moist ears leading to humidity & wax accumulation deep in the canal. This helps feed bacteria & yeast, which in turn create more inflammation.
Effect: If your pet could have an ear infection it is important to have them assessed as soon as possible by a Vet. This is not only because it is a painful condition, but also the longer the infection is present the harder it generally is to clear up. The infection can also spread to the middle ear leading to serious damage to the nerves of hearing & balance. Over time the ear canal becomes thickened & starts to narrow & scar. This can lead to long-term issues with reduced ear canal aeration & drainage, further increasing the likelihood that the infection will recur in the future.
Treatment: A sample is taken from the ears to determine the type of infection we are dealing with, so we know what type of medication is needed. Cleaning the ears is essential to remove the accumulated debris & allow the topical medications to reach the skin lining the inside of the ear. Often this is best achieved under general anaesthetic, then followed up at home with cleaning solutions. Topical antibiotic/anti-fungal & anti-inflammatory creams are needed to kill the infection & help reduce the inflammation contributing to the problem.
Ear infections can be notoriously difficult to cure for a number of reasons. Pets often do not like their ears being cleaned & treated. The canal is long & it is important to apply the treatment so that it reaches all the way to the base of the canal where the infection can hide. Also there are a number of bacteria which have developed a resistance to the antibiotics routinely used. If your pet has repeated infections we may need to perform a ear culture to identify the bacteria & the best antibiotic needed. It is very important to have the vet to check treatment to make sure the infection is completely resolved. Please make an appointment to see one of our vets if you think you have a problem with your pet’s ears.