Dogs have a remarkable hearing ability and a pair of ears to match. They can catch sounds over a wide range of frequencies and longer distances than most other species. The design of a dog’s ear plays a key part in this and this, unfortunately, entails quite a few ear problems as well. Unlike us humans, a dog’s ear canal has a vertical part and a horizontal part, which makes cleaning the entire ear canal difficult. Infections, aural hematoma, and ear mites are some common disorders that dogs suffer from.
Read on to discover the symptoms and ways to prevent and treat them.
One of the most common complaints in dogs is Otitis Externa or the inflammation of the outer ear canal. Dogs suffering from acute otitis externa when treated symptomatically without addressing the underlying factor(s) are likely to experience recurring occurrences of ear disease.
This can be caused by organisms or foreign substances entering the ear canal. It can occur as a simple inflammatory reaction to or develop in relation with infestations of parasites, the presence of bacteria and overgrowth of fungi or yeast.
Signs: The lining of the outer ear turns red, itchy and painful. A waxy material, pus or other debris are seen to accumulate. Resultant behavior includes vigorous shaking of the head, scratching and rubbing, a foul odor and hearing loss in long-term situations.
Veterinarians carry out an ear exam with an otoscope or a tiny light source. The inside of the ears are gently swabbed and the contents examined under a microscope to check for yeast, fungi, parasites, bacteria and abnormal mass. In certain cases, a biopsy (removal of a small sample) is performed. In extreme cases or recurring instances, special radiography tests (MRI or CT – computed tomography) may be prescribed.
Otitis externa can be both easy as well as difficult to treat. A vet may prescribe pills or ear-drops with antibiotics, anti-yeast or anti-inflammatory drugs in addition to specific treatment for the underlying cause. They may also suggest suitable ear cleaning and drying products for use at home to keep the ears clean.
It’s best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any medicine or cleaning products into your pet’s ears. Some of these products can cause severe problems when used under wrong circumstances.
One should never insert anything foreign (like cotton-tipped swabs) into a dog’s ear canal. Cotton balls and cleaning fluid may be used for dissolving and wiping off wax from the inner surface of the ear flap (pinna), whereas cotton buds or tips can push debris further deep into the inner parts of the canal, which can be counterproductive and definitely harmful.
An improvement in comfort should be apparent within some hours of commencing treatment for otitis externa. Indications of continued disease process include the aforementioned head-shaking, rubbing head on the ground, constant scratching or pawing at the ears and signs of pain on touching the ears.
The key measure to prevent acute otitis externa from turning into a chronic condition is to identify the underlying disease and resolve or control the root cause.
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