Otitis and/or ear infections are extremely common in dogs and there are many different causes. While otitis is a more general term that refers to inflammation within the ear, the term ear infection is a bit more specific and refers to an actual infection that may be caused by parasites, bacteria or yeast. Otitis and an ear infection can be present simultaneously in the same ear also.
Some ear problems respond very well to treatment and resolve quickly. Unfortunately, that is not the case with all canine ear problems. Many cases of otitis and ear infections in dogs are chronic and difficult to treat.
Treatment for Canine Otitis and Ear Infections Is Based on the Cause of the Disease
The first step in treating your dog's ear disease is diagnosing the cause. Without knowing the cause, resolving a chronic ear infection will likely be impossible. Even with a proper diagnosis, some cases of otitis and ear infection in dogs are not curable and need to be treated throughout the lifetime of the dog. However, others are more easily treated and can be resolved through proper care.
Treatment Options in Managing Canine Otitis and Ear Infections
There are many different types of treatments that are used in caring for dogs with otitis and/or ear infections.
- If a foreign body (e.g. foxtail grass awn) is found in your dog's ear, it will need to be removed manually.
- Regular cleaning of your dog's ears likely will be recommended to help keep his ears free of discharge, wax and debris. Your veterinarian will help you choose an appropriate cleansing solution for the ears. Some types of ear problems respond better to specific types of cleansers.
- If your dog has thick hair in his ear canals, it may be necessary to remove the hair in order to effectively clean and medicate his ears.
- If your dog is suffering from a bacterial ear infection, antibiotic ointments can be applied directly to his ear.
- Antifungal medications are commonly used to treat yeast and fungal ear infections. Most commonly, these are applied topically into the ear.
- If your dog's ears are inflamed, corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory medications may be used topically inside of his ears to reduce the inflammation and discomfort.
- If your dog's ear condition is severe, systemic antibiotics, antifungal medication or anti-inflammatory medications may need to be used in addition to topical preparations. These medications may also be used if your dog has concurrent skin disease.
- If food allergy is a cause of your dog's ear disease, your veterinarian may recommend a special hypoallergenic diet for your dog.
- If fleas or flea allergy are a problem for your dog, an effective flea prevention program will need be instituted for your dog and your household.
- If parasitic diseases such as ear mites, demodectic mange or sarcoptic mange is determined to be the cause of your dog's ear disease, an effective anti-parasitic medication can be prescribed for your dog. The type of medication used will depend on the type of parasite present.
- Masses inside of the ear canals may need to removed surgically if they are causing ear disease for your dog.
- Thyroid disease, usually hypothyoidism in dogs, will need to be treated with thyroid hormone.
Finding and treating the cause of your dog's ear disease is essential for the best results. Unfortunately, not all ear disease is easily treated or curable.
Learn more: Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats