One of the most common diseases that dogs suffer from is otitis, a very common condition that, although it is not usually complicated, can make our pet very upset and painful for a few days.
To avoid it, especially in summer, when they are more frequent, we can take a series of precautions that will avoid as much as possible, these annoying infections.
As with otitis in humans, otitis is the inflation of some part of the ear, especially the external one, which is the most common. This inflammation, which is very annoying and painful, can have several causes:
- Allergies, either food or atopic, which can trigger an ear infection.
- Mites, such as Otodectes cynotis, Demodex and Sarcoptes scabiei
- Foreign bodies, such as spikes, grasses, seeds… that enter the ear and end up causing an infection. It happens mostly to dogs walking in the fields.
- Traumatism or wounds, that the dog scratches and gets infected.
- Irritant substances, such as soap, dirty water…
- Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection Some of the most common microorganisms that cause otitis in dogs are bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Proteus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa; or fungi such as Malassezia yeast.
In addition, there are some factors that predispose the dog to suffer from otitis, such as
- Anatomical factors. There are dogs that, because of the anatomy of their ears, moisture accumulates in the ears more easily. This occurs in dogs with large and drooping ears, which conserve more moisture because they take longer or are more difficult to dry, such as Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds… Dogs with ear canals that are too small and with abundant hair in their ears are also more predisposed, such as German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, Collies…
- Previous diseases, such as polyps or those affecting the immune system, such as allergies, endocrine diseases… predispose dogs to suffer from otitis more frequently.
The symptoms of otitis are pain, apathy, fever, itching… These discomforts cause some behaviours that we have to observe and that can alert us of the presence of an ear infection:
- Frequent ear scratching.
- Constant shaking and tilting of the head.
- Alterations of the usual behaviour, he is more irritable or the opposite, he is more apathetic because of the fever.
In addition, it will be necessary to observe if he has secretions in the ear, which usually smell bad, and if there is bleeding or some wound inside it, which may be the result of scratching or some foreign body, etc.
In the presence of any of these symptoms, one must immediately go to the veterinarian who, after exploring it, will determine the presence of otitis and its treatment, which will be determined by the cause of the otitis.
- If the otitis has been caused by a foreign body, such as spikes, seeds, etc. The veterinarian will remove them. In some cases, anesthesia will be needed. In addition, the infection will need to be treated with drugs.
- The most common drugs in external otitis, the easiest to treat, are usually topical, whose function will depend on the cause of the infection and may be anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antifungal and acaricide. The internal ones will require an oral drug.
Generally, otitis responds well to treatment, but can rarely result in an otohematoma or circular hematoma, which will require surgery, or may become chronic or cause hearing loss in the dog.
Although there is no such thing as zero risk, there are many things we can do to reduce the incidence of otitis in our pets.
- Avoid moisture inside the ears, especially if it is a breed with long, floppy ears. To do this, we must dry them very well inside each time we bathe them or they are in contact with water.
- Check and clean the ears regularly for foreign objects. There are specific products to wash their ears. Never use cotton swabs.
- Feed him properly, especially in case of allergies, atopic skin, intolerances…
- Periodic reviews. Taking him to the vet regularly is the best way to prevent otitis and other pathologies and the complications derived from these.