Earache in your pet can cause all kinds of issues...
I see pets with ear infections on an almost daily basis. It is estimated that 20% of dogs have an ear infection at any given time. That means that ear disease is a common cause of discomfort for our furry family members. Therefore it’s important that you recognize the signs of ear disease so that you can bring your pet in for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Signs of ear disease include shaking their head, scratching behind their ears, rubbing their head on the floor, groaning while having their ears scratched, scaly skin around the ear canal and foul odour from their ears. Many of this these signs are from the intense itching that ear infections can cause. If your pet causes too much trauma from the scratching he can burst the tiny blood vessels in his ear flap causing a hematoma that needs to be surgically repaired.
There are 4 main causes of ear infections:
1. Anatomy: dogs that have very floppy ears and dogs that have lots of hair in their ear canals are more prone to ear infections because it restricts air flow and can cause moisture and warmth to build up in the ear canals which are ideal for yeast and bacterial growth
2. Ear mites: these parasites are very contagious and cause extreme itching. I see them more often in puppies and kittens.
3. Allergies: Allergies to food or pollen can make ears very red and itchy. The resulting inflammation can cause yeast and bacteria to overgrow
4. Fungal and bacterial infections: These normally develop due to an underlying predisposing cause such as those mentioned above. Dogs that swim a lot are also predisposed. Fungal infections cause itching, a yellow brown discharge and odour from the ear.
Treating your pet’s ears:
1. Treating the infection: this requires a sample of the ear discharge to be examined under the microscope to determine whether it is bacterial or fungal. Ear cleaning will be prescribed with an ear cleaner such as epiotic or PAW ear cleaner along with medicated drops to treat the fungus or bacteria. Dogs that swim a lot need their ears cleaned with epiotic to dry out their ear canal to help prevent infection.
2. Treating the underlying cause: This may involve allergy testing and removing hair from the ear canal. If there is an anatomical abnormality causing narrowing of the ear canal, surgery can be performed to open up the ear canal
3. Aural haematoma: these need surgical correction to drain the blood out of the ear flap. Sutures are placed to keep the haematoma from recurring.
Ear infections can become chronic and difficult to treat. If your pet is showing any signs of ear disease, call us at the clinic and make an appointment to see Dr Kerri or Dr Mel as soon as possible...early treatment can result in quicker resolution and your furry loved one will be free from discomfort much sooner. Call us on 5665 7116 if you are concerned.