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Ear Infection...Again, Why??

Ear infections are one of the most common ailments dogs face. The symptoms can include head shaking, scratching the ear, redness and swelling of the ear, ear discharge and a foul odor. They are often very painful and can lead to hearing loss, balance problems, polyps, abscesses and other complications, if not treated properly.

Treatment can be frustrating and costly if predisposing factors are not addressed. Therefore, determining the cause, treating the infection properly as well as controlling the predisposing factors provide the best chance of success.

There are many possible predisposing factors that lead to ear inflammation and infection. These include Allergies (atopy, food allergy.etc), ear canal conformation problems (i.e. Sharpei’s with very narrow canals), ear mites, polyps, breed related skin problems (i.e. Sebaceous adenitis in Standard Poodles, hyperkeratosis and seborrhea in the Chinese Crested), and, excessive time in water, to name a few.

If these predisposing factors are diagnosed and controlled or cured, recurrent ear infections would be significantly reduced. Most commonly, ear infections harbor yeast, Staphylococcus intermedius bacteria and a variety of other organisms.

Recurrent ear infections often begin to develop more resistant bacterial and yeast infections. It is crucial to perform a culture and sensitivities in order to treat successfully. This allows your doctor to choose the most effective medications. Recheck exams are very important to determine medication’s effectiveness. It is important to continue appropriate medications as directed, sometimes beyond resolution of disease symptoms. Treatment usually consists of ear cleaning solutions and topical medications as well as oral medication, chosen based on the organisms present. Treatment may be needed for many weeks. Also, most dogs will need regular ear cleaning to help avoid future infections.

Finally, ask your veterinarian to help determine the predisposing cause in your dog. This is an important step in minimizing future ear infections. Presented by Dr. Jeanette Cole, Gulf Gate Animal Hospital, 941-922-3917


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