Dog Ear Problems Part 3 – Treatment and Prevention

Stock ImageOnce your vet has diagnosed the reason for your dog’s ear problem, he will prescribe a treatment.

All treatment’s will start with a thorough cleaning of the ear canal. This is important for a number of reasons:

  • applying medication to the skin of a clean ear increases its effectiveness;
  • it removes any remaining discharge in your dog’s ear, which he would otherwise find irritating and encourage further scratching;
  • if left would encourage further bacteria and yeast infections; and
  • the ear discharge may react with an antibiotic that is prescribed thereby making the treatment ineffective.

Once the ear is clean, further treatment will depend on the cause of the ear problem:


Parasites

Either a topical or systemic treatment will be prescribed. Topical products usually need to be applied for the duration of the 3 week life cycle of the ear mite. Systemic therapies – either injections or topicals applied to the skin rather than into the ear – will last for a similar period of time.

Bacteria and Yeast Infections

Antibiotics and antifungal products respectively will be prescribed, with the specific type based on the results of the cytology tests undertaken when your [tag-tec]dog ear infection[/tag-tec] was diagnosed.

Bacterial and yeast infections can be difficult to get rid of, so you need to be vigilant for signs of it returning. Your vet will probably perform further cytology tests during the treatment to ensure the infection is being eliminated.

Foreign Bodies

These will be removed by your vet, and in almost all cases will need to be done whilst your dog is under general anesthetic.

A course of antibiotics will usually follow to ensure the ear doesn’t become infected after the operation.

Allergies

Initially any bacteria or yeast infection will be treated, and then regular ear cleaning will be needed to prevent the infection returning.

Allergies can be treated by:

  • excluding foods your dog is allergic to from his diet;
  • hyposensitization – this is a long process whereby the allergen is first removed from your dog’s system by not allowing him to come into contact with it, and then it is gradually re-introduced to your dog over a period of time that could last several months; and
  • prescribed drugs that block a reaction to the allergen.

Hormonal Causes

Drugs are usually prescribed. As with allergies, regular ear cleaning will be needed to stop the ear infection from returning.

Ongoing Treatment at Home

Your vet will give you instructions on when and how to apply any medication your dog will need. You should ensure your dog’s ears are clean before applying any medication, and follow through with the treatment as prescribed. One of the main reasons for a re-occurrence of dog ear infections is because owners do not follow through with the medication once they return home from the vet clinic.

Prevention of Ear Problems

Inflammation and infection of the ear can be successfully treated provided it is caught in its early stages.

Chronic ear infections are not only painful for your dog but can spread to the middle ear – about 80% of dogs with ear problems also have middle ear infections by the time their owners take them to the vet.

Middle ear infection – otitis media – is both more difficult to treat and get rid of than otitis externa, so you should carry out a regular inspection of your dog’s ears to catch any ear infection in its early stages.

A good time to check your dog’s ears is when you are grooming him – look for any swelling, redness of the ear and unusual discharge. Each week clean your dog’s ears and trim back any long hairs in the ear – this will increase air flow to the ear and help keep it dry.

When you bath your dog, or dry him after he’s been swimming, pay particular attention to the ears. Try and dry them as much as possible so that bacteria and yeast spores aren’t given a damp environment to flourish in.

If your dog is predisposed to ear problems, make sure you make regular appointments with your vet for check ups.

Finally, watch your dog for any symptoms of otitis and make an appointment to take him to your vet as soon as any are apparent. Even if the ear infection is the re-occurrence of an earlier infection, see your vet rather than apply the treatment you were previously given – the cause of the ear infection may be something quite different.

If you’d like to read the earlier parts of this series:

Click here for Part 1: dog ear problems – symptoms and causes

Click here for Part 2: dog ear problems – the diagnosis

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