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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > What Causes Ear Infections And How You Can Spot The Signs

What Causes Ear Infections and How You Can Spot the Signs

PetSmart Banfield, The Pet Hospital®

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Otitis externa (ear infection) is an inflammation or infection of the outer ear canal and may also involve the ear flap.

There are numerous causes for otitis including bacteria, yeast, ear mites, excessive wax, hair and debris within the canal, allergies, hormonal imbalances, preexisting ear canal or flap damage, long or heavy ear flaps and frequent exposure to moisture.

Common signs for otitis include:

Otitis externa (ear infection) is an inflammation or infection of the outer ear canal and may also involve the ear flap.

There are numerous causes for otitis including bacteria, yeast, ear mites, excessive wax, hair and debris within the canal, allergies, hormonal imbalances, preexisting ear canal or flap damage, long or heavy ear flaps and frequent exposure to moisture.

Common signs for otitis include:

  • Head and ear pain
  • Scratching or rubbing at the ears
  • Shaking of the head
  • Discharge
  • Odor
  • Redness
  • Swelling of the ears

Diagnosis is based on symptoms, examination findings and laboratory tests. In pets experiencing pain, sedation or anesthesia and deep ear cleaning may be necessary to examine the ear and remove foreign bodies, hair or infected discharge.

Treatment varies based on severity and duration of infection. Antibiotics (and medication to control secondary yeast infections), anti-inflammatory steroids and antihistamines are often needed.

Any underlying problems (removal of foreign bodies, damaged or scarred tissue, control of concurrent skin problems) must be corrected for successful resolution. Surgery may be needed in extreme, chronic cases.

An extended treatment period may be necessary for significant infections. Good home care can make the difference between resolution or chronic pain and infection for affected pets.

If your pet is diagnosed with an ear infection, follow these tips:

  • Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Follow all home care or post surgical instructions from your veterinarian
  • Don't allow your pet's ears to get wet during bathing or swimming. This can worsen the infection.

 

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