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All About Otitis in Dogs and Cats

dog with otitis in blanket

Otitis is inflammation of the ear. Since it can occur in multiple areas of the ear, it’s usually distinguished as otitis externa (of the passage of the outer ear), otitis media (of the middle ear), and otitis interna (of the inner ear; labyrinthitis).

If you suspect that your cat or dog has otitis, it’s best to start with a trip to the vet. If your vet’s diagnosis is otitis, they can prescribe the treatment your pet needs. NHV can help too, with natural ear supplements for dogs and for cats.

What is Otitis Externa?

It is inflammation of the external ear canal. In many cases, the ear pinna (flap), and middle ear are both involved.

What Causes Otitis Externa?

Many different factors are involved in the development of otitis externa in the ears of dogs or cats. These include predisposing factors, primary causes, and perpetuating factors. Predisposing factors alter the environment of the ear canal, allowing secondary bacterial and yeast infections to develop. It occurs more in dogs than in cats.

otitis externa in dogs

Risk Factors for Otitis Externa

  • Floppy ears
  • Ear canals with a small or narrow diameter
  • Numerous glands in the ear canal that overproduce waste
  • Excess hair in the canal
  • Parasites
  • Mechanical traumas
  • Allergies
  • Bacterial and yeast infections
  • Inflammation
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Foreign bodies

Which are the Clinical Signs of Otitis Externa?

Some of the symptoms of otitis externa in dog’s ears include discharge and odor from the ear, redness and swelling of the ear, rubbing or pawing at the ear, shaking of the head, and decreased hearing. While it’s more prevalent in dogs, otitis externa in cats is also possible.

What are the Diagnostic Tests for Otitis Externa?

Physical and dermatologic examinations are performed to identify predisposing factors and primary causes of otitis in dogs and cats. Diagnosis of underlying diseases often requires further testing such as laboratory and hormonal tests, allergy testing, skin scrapings, and biopsies.

What Will Treatments for Otitis Externa Do?

The goal of treatments for otitis in dog and cat ears is to remove debris from the ears, relieve inflammation, resolve infections, control predisposing and perpetuating factors, and treat the primary causes.

Which Supplements are Suggested for Otitis Externa in Dogs?

Echo Gold for ear infections can help soothe and relieve pain and inflammation that is caused by ear mites, allergens, insect bites, foreign particles, food allergies, parasitic mites and fungal infections. Otitis in dogs from ear infections can be detected if there is swelling, unusually frequent head shaking, itching, smelly odor, waxy discharge, redness and flaking, or bumps on the skin. It helps to reduce inflammation of your dog’s ear canal, helps eliminate ear mites, reduces infection-causing triggers, and reduces itching and scratching

Alge-Ex helps prevent allergies and supports pets suffering from environmental allergies and hay fever. It also helps to reduce symptoms during an acute allergy attack. In fact, Alge-Ex actually helps support histamine release caused by immune response activity. It can even reduce symptoms of airborne allergies such as itchy eyes, face, and sneezing and may reduce inflamed or scabbed skin.

What is Otitis Interna?

It is an inflammatory condition of the structures of the inner ear, one of several varieties of otitis in dogs and cats.

Which are the Clinical Signs of Otitis Interna?

Symptoms of otitis interna in dogs and cats may include head tilt, falling, circling, nausea and vomiting, and abnormal eye position or abnormal movements of the eyes.

What are the Diagnostic Tests for Otitis Interna in Cats and Dogs?

A complete neurologic examination is usually performed to determine which part of the nervous system is involved. For infectious causes, there is usually a prior history of chronic otitis externa and/or otitis media. Initial diagnostic tests for otitis interna in dogs are similar to those used in animals with otitis externa or otitis media. They include otoscopy as well as cytologic examination and a culture of exudate from the external and middle ear. In addition, laboratory tests for rickettsial or fungal diseases and advanced imaging may be recommended. If that is the case, magnetic resonance imaging is the preferred test. A deep ear flush may be needed for dogs with otitis interna. A spinal tap and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are indicated in certain circumstances.

For non-infectious diseases, radiographic imaging is needed to determine whether a benign inflammatory polyp or tumor is present and to look for signs of trauma. For idiopathic acquired vestibular disease, it is important to rule out underlying causes and other diseases with similar signs.

How Can I Take Care of a Dog or Cat with Otitis Externa?

Visits to the vet are very important to the management of otitis externa. It is also important to continue with vet prescribed medication until the recheck. While the clinical signs may resolve soon after starting the medication, the infection may still be present. If the Otitis is caused by food allergies, it is important to change the diet of your pet. The best way to determine possible food allergies is through trial diets.