Ear Problems for Pets

Image of dog getting ears examined.

Symptoms of ear disease are shaking the head, scratching at the ears, discharge from the ear canal, odor from the ear, or redness of the ear flap or entrance to the ear canal. Your pet may be tilting their head to one side although it's important to point out that there are causes for this other than ear disease. The color and consistency of discharge may vary from yellow liquid to black wax, but the color does not indicate one particular cause.

Causes of Ear Problems for Pets

The causes of ear disorders are due to infection, allergy, foreign bodies, or tumors. Your veterinarian will examine the ear canal with an otoscope which allows the long canal to be inspected along its entire length. The exam will also help your veterinarian determine if the eardrum is intact. This may require sedation or anesthesia if the ear is very painful or if the pet is not cooperative. A sample of the discharge will be examined under a microscope for any organisms. This information will help your veterinarian in developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Infections of the ear can be due to yeast, bacteria, or ear mites. Yeast infections are by far the most common, accounting for an estimated 75% of cases in dogs. Bacterial infections cause about 20% of ear infections, and ear mites cause about 5% (or less) of cases in dogs. Bacteria resistant to antibiotics are an increasing cause of ear infections. This is diagnosed with a culture and sensitivity by a laboratory. Some bacterial infections can even perforate the eardrum.

Allergies are a very common cause of ear problems, in fact, many of the yeast infections are secondary to an underlying allergy. If there are recurring ear symptoms, allergy is almost certainly the cause. Environmental allergens such as pollen, molds, and house dust mites are frequent causes of allergy. Food allergy is also a common cause of ear problems. A pet is not allergic to a brand of food, but is allergic to one or more food ingredients. A food trial is the only method to determine if a food allergy is an etiology. There is no reliable blood or intradermal skin test for food allergy. Consequently, flea allergy is generally not a cause of ear abnormalities.

Occasionally a foreign body will make its way into the ear canal and cause irritation or even perforate the eardrum. Pieces of plants, especially seedpods called foxtails, are a common foreign body that can cause ear problems. Anesthesia may be needed to remove the object. Tumors, which are even more rare, may develop in the ear canal and cause a blockage. Surgery may be needed to remove the mass and pathology should be performed to determine if it is benign or malignant.

Treatment for Your Pet

Treatment of ear problems will depend on the cause of the disease, for example, a bacterial infection is treated differently than a yeast infection. A foreign body needs removal while ear mites need a parasite treatment. In general, treatment often involves oral medicine, topical medicine, and ear cleansers. It is also important to know whether the eardrum is intact, as many topical medications can't be used if there is a ruptured eardrum. In more advanced cases surgery may be the preferred method of treatment.

Ear problems are a malady your veterinarian sees on a regular basis. Most are healed with routine treatment but some cases can be more challenging. It is important to have a thorough exam, appropriate treatment and a follow-up plan to check on progress and ensure complete recovery. Many "repeat" infections are cases that never truly healed completely. Your veterinarian is your pet's best friend when it comes to ear problems so don't hesitate to call with your questions or make an appointment if you are concerned that your pet may be experiencing ear problems.

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Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 AM-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 AM-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Thursday:

9:00 AM-7:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Saturday:

9:00 am-1:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Thanks for everything you did for Ready !
    Obviously he loved you all !"
    Bart V.
  • "I will continue to bring my furkids to Buck Road. They are absolutely wonderful with my dog and have been a great resource for my cat who suffers from allergies and kidney problems. They really care about their patients and their humans, and listen to me when I have concerns. They are never, ever overcrowded. Usually there is maybe one other dog in the waiting room. That is a relief and keeps everyone's stress levels down! The facility is clean and staff is always friendly and willing to walk you through, step by step, the treatment plan ahead. I never leave feeling confused. I love this place - and we keep coming back despite moving pretty far away!"
    Courtny S.
  • "Awesome staff ~ great veterinary care ~ Dutch is lucky to have such wonderful professionals looking after him!"
    Beverly B.
  • "A top notch practice. Highly recommend."
    Jason D.
  • "I've been bringing my pets to Buck Road Animal Hospital almost from the time they started and I have never had anything but positive experiences there. The staff feel like friends to me and they always make you feel like they're happy to see you and your pets. The vets take their time with you and your pets and they go out of their way to give you any information you might need about a pet's condition or treatment. I have A LOT of pets and some of my dogs have aggression issues but you'd never know it to see them there. They understand how to make any animal feel at ease and even my most difficult dog is welcomed there. I'd never go anywhere else. Best veterinary practice anywhere."
    Mary K.
  • "I have been a client of Buck Road Animal Hospital for 30 years..and they are the all the greatest caring friendly kind people..I would not go anywhere else..They go out of there way to accommodate you..They are Number 1..Hats off to Caroline Renee Leanne Donna Lindie and to the best vets Dr Steve and Dr Mary Pat."
    Carole M.
  • "Probably the greatest animal hospital of all-time. The staff is superb, and the Doctors are as kind and knowledgeable as they come. Can't wait for our next visit!"
    Andrew S.