Chronic Ear Infections in Cats

Ear infections in cats have many causes, and treatment depends largely on the cause. Though the ear infection must be treated regardless of the cause, the initial cause of the infections must be treated to prevent the ear infections from recurring.

Causes of Ear Infections

Ear infections have a variety of causes, such as tumors, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, parasites and allergies. Because ears are just an extension of your cat's skin, anything that causes skin problems, such as yeast or bacterial infections, can cause ear infections.

The most common cause of ear infections is allergies. Both food and environmental allergies can cause chronic ear infection. As long as the cat is exposed to the allergen, the symptoms will continue and the immune system is weakened, causing ear infections to take hold frequently.

Ear infections associated with tumors may also cause blood or discharge in the ear, and dogs will often exhibit symptoms of the other disorders causing the ear infection. If the ear infections are left untreated, the infection can travel to the middle ear, which causes the ear canal to narrow, making the infections more difficult to treat and potentially more damaging.

Treatment of Ear Infections

Since the ear infections themselves are usually caused by a bacterial or yeast infections, most ear infections can be treated with antibiotics or antifungal medication.

This will usually be accompanied by daily ear flushes, which clean out dead bacteria as well as any mucous or puss in which bacteria and yeast may thrive. Ear cleaners are often made with saline or diluted vinegar and can be obtained through your veterinarian. To effectively clean, fill the ears with the fluid and then close and massage the ear for a few seconds to make sure your pet doesn't just shake out all the cleaner.

After this is completed, any antibacterial or antifungal ear drops may be added.

However, treatment is not complete without treating the underlying illness. If only the ear infection is treated, the offending symptoms will cause the ear infections to recur frequently. Thus, treatment depends largely on the cause.

Parasites can be treated with topical medications such as ivermectin or a similar oil, which will kill the parasites within the ear. Tumors may have to be surgically removed and, if malignant, treated with chemotherapy. Thyroid disease is usually treated with soloxine or a similar medication that increases production of thyroxine, the hormone secreted by the thyroid. Autoimmune disorders are also treated with drug therapy, depending on which illness your cat has obtained.

Allergies are more difficult to treat because the cause of the allergy must be narrowed down from thousands of choices. First, your veterinarian will likely put your dog on a food trial. If the food allergen isn't discovered, environmental allergy tests can be conducted. If found, you may opt for allergy injections or drug therapy.

Chronic ear infections can cause lethargy, appetite loss, pain and itching in your dog. If your dog suffers from persistent ear infections, visit your veterinarian to determine the most likely cause and best method of treatment.