The term “otitis” can be used to describe a wide variety of problems associated with the ears. All of these can be divided into two basic categories:
- Primary otitis is caused by a problem within the ears themselves. For example, ear mites cause primary otitis; they directly cause discomfort to the pet as they colonize the ears.
- Secondary otitis results from an underlying problem that affects the ears. Allergies are a good example; dogs may scratch and rub their ears because they are generally uncomfortable. When the allergy is treated, the scratching and rubbing stops and the ears improve.
Ear problems are very common in dogs. Bacterial and yeast infections, ear mites, allergies, immune mediated diseases, and tumors are just a few of the many causes. Your veterinarian will want to determine if the otitis is primary or secondary so that an effective treatment plan can be developed.
In cases of bacterial, yeast, and parasitic infections, you may need to apply medication directly into your pet’s ears to kill the organisms responsible. Other topical medications can help decrease pain and redness. Sometimes oral medications may also be prescribed.
It’s important that the ears are cleaned before any topical medication is applied. In ears that contain a large amount of discharge, the medication may not be able to get to where it needs to be. Clean your dog’s ears only as your veterinarian has instructed. Remember to be gentle when cleaning painful ears. After the ears are clean, apply the amount of medication prescribed by your veterinarian into the opening of the vertical ear canal and gently massage it to distribute the medication throughout the entire ear canal.
The best way to prevent otitis is by keeping your dog’s ears clean. Speak to your veterinarian about the types of ear problems likely to be experienced by your dog and other ways to help prevent them.
The part of the ear that extends from the head is called the pinna; it comes in many different shapes and sizes depending on the breed. Inside the ear, there is a vertical canal that opens to the outside and makes an inward 90 degree bend to become the horizontal canal.
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