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Itchy Ears

Ear problems in dogs are a common problem presented to vets, especially over the summer period.

Most ear problems are easily cured with appropriate targeted treatment and correct duration of treatment. Both these criteria are vital to successful treatment. However, if ears are left, or not managed correctly they can become chronic and become difficult to treat medically. The occasional ear problem does unfortunately end up having to go to surgery to have the whole chronic ear canal removed.

There are multiple causes of ear disease. The most common disease for this time of year is bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth. Often the ear is itchy and red and it can be started by swimming, or getting water into the ear. This is a common situation when dogs love getting into the lake. The bacteria and yeast grow rapidly in the spa like conditions of the ear canal. These bacteria can induce redness which leads to the itchiness. This problem can often be prevented by cleaning out the ears with an ear cleaner that dries out the ear and drives out water. Once infection has started prescription veterinary medicines are required.

Ear mites can also cause discharge in the ear but is often seen normally in young animals only. This is also fixed with prescription veterinary medicines.

Grass seeds and other foreign bodies can also lead to itchy ears. These objects often are not associated with discharge. This is normally diagnosed by using an otoscope at time of veterinary consultation. Removal fixes this problem. Normally deep sedation is required.

One type of bacteria, Pseudomonas is the bacteria vets loathe, as it causes chronic painful wet ears. It is resistant to a lot of different antibiotics and can be challenging to treat. It can become resistant to a number of antibiotics quite quickly and these cases can often end up going to surgery. Culture is required to diagnose this problem.

Some ear problems can be due to allergies in the summer. The allergies predispose to infections in the ear so often by controlling the allergy the ears become less of a problem. These types of ear problems can seem cured then seem to return the same time each year. This can be due to the seasonal allergy so control of the allergy is required to help prevent recurrent infections.