External Ear Infection (External Otitis) in Dogs
Treatment: Because external ear infections often progress to the middle ear,
it is extremely important to take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as you
suspect an ear problem. Veterinary examination of the deep portions of the ear
canal using an otoscope is the most important step in making the diagnosis and
planning the treatment.
Otoscopic examination cannot be attempted if the canal is dirty and filled
with wax and purulent debris. First, the ear must be cleaned. This may require
sedation or anesthesia.
It is essential to know whether the eardrums are intact, since it is not
safe to medicate the ears with certain medications if the drums are perforated.
It is also important to be sure the problem is not caused by a foreign body or
tumor. A specimen of waxy material is taken with a cotton-tipped applicator,
rolled onto a glass slide, and examined under the microscope looking for
bacteria, yeast, ear mites, and any other predisposing factors. Your
veterinarian may need to do a culture and sensitivity test on the discharge,
especially if this is a recurring problem. A correct and definite diagnosis of
the cause helps to determine the most appropriate and best treatment.
The first step in treatment is to clean and dry the ear canals. This
requires ear-cleaning solutions, a syringe, an ear curette, and cotton balls.
It should be done at the veterinary clinic. Cleaning creates a less favorable
environment for bacteria to grow and allows the medication to treat the surface
of the ear canal. Medication can’t penetrate the debris in a dirty ear.
Follow-up care at home involves medicating the ear with a preparation
prescribed by your veterinarian. If the ear continues to produce wax and
exudate, a cleansing and flushing solution such as Oti-Clens or Epi-Otic,
and/or a drying solution such as ClearX or Panodry, may be recommended. These
solutions are used immediately before medicating the ear with an antibiotic or
antifungal medication. Topical and/or oral corticosteroids may be recommended
to control pain and decrease swelling and inflammation. Some dogs may need oral
antibiotics as well for severe
Bacterial infections that continue to progress produce thickening and
narrowing of the ear canal and chronic pain. These ears are difficult to clean
and treat. Asa last resort, your veterinarian may advise a surgical procedure
called an ear resection that reestablishes air circulation and promotes