Ear infections are one of the most common reasons dogs and cats come to see our vets.
Symptoms we expect owners to report are :
1. Scratching his/her ears
2. Rubbing his/her head along the ground
3. Shaking his/her head
4. Red or hot ears
5. Discharge visible in the ears
6. Smelly ears
7. Dogs with pendulous ears eg. the Cavalier King Charles or Cocker Spaniel are more commonly affected.
Some key points owner should know about ear infections:
1. The ear canal is very long in a dog and the cat. To fully examine it a vet needs to look into it using an otoscope. As well as being long and narrow, it is usually moist and has very little air circulating, so it is the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply. Dogs and cats can also get ear mite infestations which make them very itchy- the vet will usually spot these tiny mites with the otoscope.
2.Ear infections need to be treated as soon as possible. At the very least a long course of ear drops will be needed and often oral antibiotics and anti inflammatories are also required.
3. Ear infections take a long time to clear up- the average ear infection takes between 2 and 4 weeks to clear up but a severe infection can take up to 8-10 weeks. Therefore it is very important that any medication given by the vet is taken as instructed and for the full duration.
4. Ear infections have a tendancy to re-occur, especially if not treated for long enough. It is important that the vet examines the ear with otoscope when treatment is finished in case there is any residual infection deep in the canal- if there is, more treatment will be required.
5. For dogs who have re-occuring infections, we advise the owners to clean the ears regularly using an effective ear cleanser. This tends to reduce the frequency of infections. Our vets and nurses routinely show owners how to clean their pets ears effectively.
6. Occasionally re-occuring ear infections can be a symptom of an underlying allergy, especially if a dog is inclined to scratch other parts of his/her skin.