Otitis in dogs: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

There are different forms of ear infections in dogs. These ear ailments sometimes recurrences are frequent and their causes are numerous. An ear infection is usually painful, and it always warrants a visit to the veterinarian because neglect can lead to complications. Treatment should be followed carefully and for as long as necessary. Zoom on ear infections in dogs.

Otitis in dogs: possible causes

Here is a look at the many causes of ear infections in dogs.

A foreign body

A foreign body can become lodged in the ear canal of the animal, causing unilateral otitis media, that is, it only occurs in one ear. This condition is very often caused by a spikelet which infiltrates during a walk in the fields. This case is therefore quite common in hunting dogs and more generally in those who spend a lot of time snooping in areas where grasses are abundant. A foreign body causes infection or inflammation and the dog’s eardrum may be punctured. The animal shakes its head, seems embarrassed, but above all feels violent pain in the ear.

An allergy

Allergic otitis is only found in some dogs with hypersensitivity specific. Thus, the condition can appear following the ingestion of a food (food origin), following a bite or in case of allergy to a pollen to the bite of a parasite (environmental origin). Since the dog is regularly confronted with the allergen, he develops a recurrent form of this type of otitis. Apart from localized pain, the dog presents associated symptoms such as skin problems on the body, limbs, in the eyes, as well as more or less severe itching.

A parasite

Different mites can be responsible for otitis in dogs because inflammation occurs following their presence in the ear canal.

A pathogenic bacteria or yeast

Bacteria and fungi thrive in a dog’s ear when the natural flora is disturbed or destroyed. There is a foul odor escaping from the ear canal as well as a purulent discharge. Such an otitis can be caused by a deep bite in the immediate vicinity of the ear, the use of cotton swabs, extensive stripping of the ears, a pile of hair, an accumulation of earwax forming a plug, frequent bathing therefore that water repeatedly enters the pipe …

Note that the tumors and the polyps can also be the cause of otitis media but also external. However, dogs are rarely affected by ear infections due to a tumor in the ear canal or an inflammatory polyp. However, these causes are much more common in cats. Finally, thehypothyroidism and some autoimmune pathologies are factors that promote ear infections.

Otitis in dogs: the different types

A dog can suffer from internal, external or otitis media.

Internal otitis

It affects the inner ear, an organ which allows the perception of sound waves and which plays a major role in maintaining the body’s balance. It may be the site of otitis (internal), but it is enough rare in dogs.

Otitis externa

This very common form in dogs refers to inflammation of the ear canal that extends up to the eardrum. The dog suffers from pain in the ear, scratches himself insistently and constantly shakes his ear which he also tries to rub with his paw or against a piece of furniture. When very advanced, this ear infection causes a brownish discharge, pus and a very unpleasant rancid odor.

Otitis media

This form of otitis can affect the middle ear only or the outer ear and the middle ear. Inflammation affects tympanic bubbles. The dog shakes his head or keeps it tilted almost permanently, feels pain in the ear but also when he opens his mouth or when his master strokes it under the ear. Otitis media quickly causes a runny nose, sneezing, hearing loss, all of the ENT sphere being then infected. Even more serious, this form of otitis can be the cause of paralysis of the face (right side or left side).

Otitis in dogs: diagnosis and treatment

The veterinarian must identify the form of ear infection, her cause, and look for the infection-promoting factor when it is chronic. Using an otoscope, he carefully examines the dog’s ear canal to check his eardrum, look for any foreign body and see if there are any secretions. These are taken in order to be analyzed during a cytobacteriological examination. This makes it possible to identify the bacteria or yeasts involved and to adapt the treatment, which – if the ear infection is of bacterial origin – must be based on antibiotic therapy. Finally, the practitioner can also use a imaging test like an x-ray, CT scan or MRI.

The treatment is therefore adapted on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether the dog suffers from otitis externa, average or internal. It can be based on local treatments antibiotics, anti-inflammatory to instill in the affected ear, even on a acaricide in ointment or pipette. At the same time, the master must cleaning the ears of his animal every 3 days in order to eliminate dead cells and earwax which, when they accumulate, increase the risk of superinfection. Note that when cleaning the ears may generate very severe pain making the task almost impossible, the veterinarian may anesthetize the dog during the consultation. But afterwards, the master will have to get down to it delicately and be patient.

To treat otitis media in dogs, ointments and lotions are ineffective. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment is therefore administered orally and can be continued for up to 6 weeks. A surgical act can be decided when this treatment fails to cure advanced otitis media. In this case, the veterinarian proceeds as the case with the trepanation of the tympanic bubbles, lowers the ear canal or proceeds to its removal. This last surgical act is obviously only performed as a very last resort.

Any treatment for ear infection of any form should be continued until complete recovery. A check-up consultation is therefore required before the end of treatment in order to obtain the veterinarian’s opinion. By stopping it too early, you expose your dog to the risk of developing other ear infections, which are increasingly difficult to treat.

Attention, with each new inflammation, it is imperative to return to the veterinarian. It is absolutely necessary never give your dog an old medicine that we come out of the closet because the new ear infection may not have the same cause as the previous one. Note also that if the ear infection in dogs is due to a mite, all the animals in the household must be treated because they may be contaminated.

We can not prevent all forms of ear infections since some, as we have seen, can be due to a tumor, polyps or a malformation. However, it is possible to avoid some, in particular by banning the use of cotton swabs. We have to regularly cleaning your dog’s ears following the expert advice of the veterinarian, and it may also be necessary to ask the groomer to remove the hairs that grow at the entrance to the ear canal. It is also thought to check your dog when returning from a walk, spikelets may have clung to his hair. Finally, the prevention of otitis also goes through regular control visits to the vet.