Common diseases of Dogs and Cats’ EARS.
I would like to talk about ear care and some common misconceptions regarding treatments.The ear is a delicate organ and very important especially in our pet animals. A dog’s hearing is about 40 times greater than that of our own. The main function of the ear is hearing but it also plays a vital role in balance.
Recently we have had a lot of ear cases (some severe) needing treatment and in some circumstances the owner of the dog was wrongly treating an ear problem and had incorrect advice. Fingers crossed it is something superficial and easily treatable – but in more and more cases resistance occurs and so it is vital we treat correctly at the start.
Chronic ear infections are ones which come on slowly and stay for a long time.
The three most common products you can buy for otitis in a vet clinic after veterinary advice are;
While these are great medicines, they do not cover every ear problem or infection. Talk to us if you are worried about your pet’s ears and we will point you in the right direction. One of the most common nasty bacteria is Clostridium. This is caused by dirty stagnant water and/or livestock. It is extremely resistant to all three medicines listed above and also worryingly to most anti-biotics. Another worrying bacteria called Pseudomonas is resistant to most antibiotics, is diagnosed only after tests and like clostridium will need antibiotic tablets as part of the cure. It is also usually resistant to the 4 ear drop medicines listed above.
A recent severe case of otitis Externa in an Irish Red Setter which we investigated by sample ear swabs proved to be a Clostridium perfringens infection and which we treated at our clinic. Our Swab results showed up Only two anti-biotics out of twelve having the desired killing effect on this nasty bug.
The crucial advice is to come in for a check-up and so we can do an ear swab. This means with lab results we can immediately start to treat it accordingly with the correct drugs and anti-biotics, and will save you time and money in the long run. An ear swab is a very simple procedure in which we take some ear cells on a cotton bud and send it to the laboratory for a culture test – to see what bacteria lies in the murky depths.
This is necessary as certain drugs kill certain bacteria. Hence there is no point giving drugs or anti-biotics if you are not attacking the appropriate strain of germs. This is worse than doing nothing, as effectively what you are doing is offering the bug higher levels of resistance and your poor dog’s immunity may suffer.
Don’t assume any medicine from the chemist will be effective! We are seeing more people coming in with hastily bought products; For example Bingo our case study;
Case Study: Bingo, 5yo female golden Labrador
(with a great appetite for getting into trouble.) She came in with a two extremely swollen ears and a barely visible ear canal. She had been treated with ear cleaner, canaural, surolan, and others. None of these had any improving effect on poor Bingo and her hearing and balance was also impaired not to mention very sore. We all know how excruciating a bad ear infection is. If we had of seen Bingo at the beginning she could have saved two whole years of trying inappropriate treatments. In some severe cases and in hers, surgery may be unavoidable. She had to undergo ‘Zepp’s procedure’ which is partial ear canal resection as a result of chronic scarring to the ear tissue due to two years’ worth of painful infections. Don’t let this be you!
Common ailments of the ear;
1. Ear mites
4. Swollen ear/s
1-Ear mites can be treated with canaural or surolan. Stronghold spot on will also kill this nasty mite. Clean the ear first with damp (not soaked) cotton wool. Remove excess dirt then apply a few drops of liquid and then squish the dog’s ear around before letting the dog shake. They are indicated by dark brown crumbly material in the ear and head shaking and scratching. Careful the dog doesn't scratch at the ear or he may create a wound and introduce infection.
2-Infections will need to be seen by the vet to diagnose which the best drugs to treat are and if an ear swab culture is necessary. These can be smelly and dirty looking. The dog might also shake its head. Your pet may tilt its head.
3- Otitis / inflammation – inner ear will look red, inflamed and hot, and may have infection also. This may lead to swelling.
4- Swollen ear is a common ailment that may be caused by ear mites, which leads to the dog shaking its head which eventually becomes swollen. This may need an aural haematoma, a procedure in which the fluid in the ear is drained. Careful the dog doesn’t scratch at the ear or he may create a wound and introduce infection.