Otitis externa or swelling/infection of external ear canal is an infection of the ear canal, which is most commonly found in dogs and to some extent in cats. This is one of the most common signs of allergy in dogs and is characterised by inflammation of the external ear canal. The condition may develop seemingly overnight, or it may be a chronic or frequently recurring problem. Experienced pet owners can spot this problem easily at an early stage. Let’s have a look at the causes, symptoms and treatment of external otitis in dogs.
The causes for otitis externa can be categorised as-
- Predisposing factors: These factors include the reasons that elevate the risks of development of the disease. Factors like inappropriate cleaning or water in the ears are the predisposing causes of external otitis. Dogs who frequent swimming pools or lakes (for example Lake Ontario in Burlington) and dogs with floppy ears may be more prone to developing these infections.
- Primary factors: These factors are those which are directly responsible for causing otitis externa. The primary causes for external otitis are parasites, fungi or foreign bodies like grass seeds and awns. It can also be caused by food and environmental allergies which causes skin diseases.
- Hormonal causes: Deficiency of thyroid hormone can cause otitis externa and skin disease. Dogs with Cushings Disease are also more susceptible to generalized infections including those in ears.
The most common symptoms of ear infections in dogs are head shaking, constant scratching or rubbing of ears and bad odour. Ears may appear red and feel hot to the touch. You may also notice an abnormal discharge coming from ear which may be brown and waxy or green and purulent. The dog may also experience pain when you try touching or cleaning it.
It is important to keep your dog’s ears clean using a cotton ball and cleaning solution. Hair can be removed from the ear canal to improve ventilation and access for treatment. But, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian because if not treated properly, external otitis can lead to severe infections.