Otitis externa in dogs is amongst the most common reasons for consulting a veterinarian. The condition is characterized by an inflammation of the outer ear and the hearing canal, the space between outer ear and ear drum.
The lining of the auditory canal is irritated, reddened and swollen. There is an increase in ear wax produced and the inflamed skin can fester and develop a bad odor. At this stage the inflammation can already have been present for several days or weeks. In general the dog will start scratching its ears or rub its head against objects like carpets or the legs of a table. Often the dog will merely constantly shake its head. The symptoms can persist intermittently or, in more severe cases, continuously. The infection usually only affects one ear but can also in some cases be transmitted to the other ear.
In most cases ear inflammations are caused by migrated bacteria. In rare cases, also fungi or yeasts may be involved. Ear mites as activator are a separately treated disease pattern. Dogs that like going into water, as well as dog breeds with lop ears and/or long coat are more frequently affected by inflammations of the ear. With some diseases of the auditory canal, particularly when the inflammations frequently recur or the animals do not respond to drugs, then food allergies or other intolerances may at least be involved. If there is the suspicion of such an allergy, in addition to the therapy also a replacement of food should be considered.
Simple and uncomplicated inflammations are normally well responsive to a treatment with ear drops. In most cases the affected ear must additionally be cleaned from wax and purulence by the veterinarian. In severe cases, additionally other medication needs to be administered. In case of chronic diseases, the complete auditory canal sometimes swells completely and causes continuous irritations and pain. In such cases, mostly only an operation can help in which the auditory canal is opened artificially from outside in order to reach a better ventilation and cleaning.
In case the dog has the symptoms mentioned before, you should as soon as possible, in case of severe developments and pains, quickest possible consult a veterinarian.