Otitis Exerna in Dogs

Otitis externa may not be a very familiar term to you, but it's likely that you've heard the more common name for this medical condition: ear infection. Your dog is susceptible to ear infections in the same way that human members of your family are. In fact, some dogs are even more predisposed to getting ear infections than human beings. Like other infections, ear infections can progress to a potentially harmful state quickly if left untreated. Therefore, it's important that you have a good idea of what an ear infection is and how it can affect your dog so that you know how to go about treating it.

Otitis Externa Overview

Ear infections occur when yeast and other bacteria build up in the external cavity of the ear. Many dogs have large, floppy ears, which are enclosed and tend to be quite warm and moist. This is an idea breeding grounds for bacteria, and it makes the dogs more likely to suffer from ear infections.

An ear infection is caused by bacterial growth. This bacteria will continue to grow and spread unless you take active measures to stop this from happening. In more extreme cases, an ear infection can result in permanent hearing damage and ear difficulties, and bacteria can enter into your pet's bloodstream and infect his internal organs. If this happens, your pet's life may even be at stake as well.

Diagnosing Otitis Externa

In many cases, you'll be able to detect when your dog has an ear infection visually. Many dogs will make motions to try to rid themselves of what feels like an object on or in their ear. Look for your pet to rub his ear against the floor or a piece of furniture. He may also shake his head around from side to side. Upon closer inspection, the ear canal may have a white discharge or buildup, or it may be red and inflamed.

In order to make a proper diagnosis, you'll have to take your pet in to the vet in order to examine your dog. The diagnostic process will typically consist of the following:

  • Examination of symptoms that you've noticed
  • Full physical examination
  • Sample of discharge from the ear for lab testing

Once your vet has confirmed that your dog has an ear infection, you can then go about treating the condition.

Treating Otitis Externa

An ear infection can be treated through antibiotics. This is the most common and most effective way of dealing with otitis externa. The antibiotics will eliminate the harmful bacteria from your pet's system, thereby reducing and ultimately eliminating the infection. It's important to follow your vet's instructions for giving your pet the antibiotics as closely as possible, as these are powerful drugs that may have side effects or which may be ineffective if not used properly. If your pet's ear infection persists in spite of medical treatment, take your dog to the vet for further examination.