More than half of the patients I see daily have some form of ear disease (Otitis Externa). Most of these cases are preventable with some regular ear maintenance. This month’s article will review ear disease causes and some easy prevention techniques.

Signs of ear problems include itching leading to head shaking and scratching at the area. Soon to follow can be redness, a malodorous discharge from the ear or ears and possible a head tilt.

Common causes are flea allergy, food allergy, atopy (like hay fever), mites and others. Predisposing factors include pets with floppy ears, hot humid environments (Florida), narrowed ear canals in certain breeds, pets that swim, tumors as well as others. Secondary to these conditions, the patient will develop a bacterial and/or yeast infection.

Treatment involves identifying the primary cause of the infection. Whereas fleas and atopy are the number one underlying reason in Florida for otitis, recent research has shown that food allergy is very common as a cause of treatment failure. (See the monthly article archive for further information regarding Flea Allergy, Food Allergy and Atopy) Microscopic evaluation of the ear discharge is necessary for identification of the bacterial and/or yeast involved. Once identified, topical and if necessary, oral medication is prescribed for a week or longer to clear the infection. A recheck is usually required at this time to assess treatment success.

Prevention is the best treatment, especially when it comes to ears. Pets which are predisposed to these diseases will require more regular care than others. Simply using an approved veterinary ear cleaner weekly, after baths and swimming will prevent visits to the veterinarian for treatment. We use V.E.T. Ear Cleaner exclusively because of studies which show excellent yeast and bacterial kill as well as effective gentle cleansing. I do NOT recommend alcohol, vinegar/water or most over the counter ear cleaners which tend to be irritating.

As always, if you should have any questions or concerns regarding this months health article, please feel free to call the office.