Published on December 3, 2014
Ear infection (otitis) is one of the most common reasons we see our dog patients. It is usually fairly straight forward to clear up an ear infection, at least the first 2 or 3 times you see it, but some dogs fight otitis forever. After that, chronic scarring and narrowing of the ear canal, plus the development of resistant bacteria can turn an ear infection into a lifelong source of discomfort for your dog, and a management headache for you.
Prevention depends upon identifying the underlying cause of the initial infections. It may be as simple as getting the ear wet when swimming or irritation caused by over zealous hair plucking. More commonly, ear infections stem from an allergic reaction to something in the diet or to environmental allergens. Allergies cause inflammation that damages the protective barrier of healthy skin and leads to an over-production of ear wax. This increase in ear wax creates the perfect situation for yeast and bacteria that are already in the ear to begin to grow out of control, causing their own damage. The key steps in preventing recurrent otitis are to understand what is causing it so we can control inflammation and excessive wax production in the ear canal to keep microbe numbers low.
The earlier we identify an ear infection and what is causing it, the better the odds are that you’ll be able to take steps to keep your pet from developing painful, chronic ear infections.