Otitis and/or ear infections are common for dogs. There are many different causes of canine ear disease and diagnosing the cause is an important part of treating the disease. Of course, you must first recognise that your dog has an ear problem.
Diagnosing Canine Otitis and Ear Infections: the Physical Examination
In most cases, diagnosis will begin with an examination of the ears and will also include a general examination of your dog. Your vet will want to do a thorough examination of your dog for evidence of disease outside the ears. This is because ear disease in dogs is often secondary to another disease. Evidence of skin disease or other injuries may give your vet a clue that there is more involved than just your dog's ears.
An otoscopic examination of your dog's ears will allow your veterinarian to look into your dog's ear canal. This may reveal objects such as foreign bodies or masses inside the ear, as well as allow your veterinarian to see what the deeper structures of your dog's ear look like. In some cases, it may be necessary to wash your dog's ears with a sedative to visualize the eardrum and make sure the eardrum is intact.
Diagnostic Tests Used for Otitis in Dogs
Once your vet has examined your dog and his ears, other diagnostic tests may be recommended.
- Samples from the remains of your dog's ears can be examined microscopically for evidence of ear mites and other parasites.
- Ear cytology uses a swab of your dog's ear canal along with special stains to look for abnormal cell types and the presence of yeast and/or bacteria in your dog's ears.
- If a bacterial infection is found, a culture of your dog's ear may be necessary to identify the specific type of bacteria present in your dog's ear and determine which antibiotic will be most effective in killing or controlling the bacteria.
If your dog's ear infection is thought to be secondary to another cause, your veterinarian should identify that cause. This may involve further testing.
- Blood tests can be performed to rule out diseases such as hypothyroidism.
- Food testing may be recommended if a food allergy is suspected.
- Testing with an effective flea medicine may be recommended to ensure that flea allergies are not playing a role in your dog's otitis.
- Allergy testing (either skin testing or blood testing) may be recommended if atopy has been diagnosed and you are considering hyposensitization (i.e. "allergy shots") for your dog.
- Skin scrapings can be performed to rule out diseases such as demodectic or sarcoptic mange. If these diseases are strongly suspected, even a therapeutic trial with drugs known to be effective against them can be considered.
- Fungal cultures may also be recommended if fungal infection such as ringworm is suspected as the cause.
How to Prevent?
Regular Cleaning of the Ears to Prevent Canine Ear Infections
Even if your dog's ears are healthy, regular cleaning can help keep them healthy and free of dirt, debris and wax. This is especially true if your dog has ears that secrete a large amount of cerumen (wax).
If your dog has thick hair growth inside his ear canals, you will need to make a decision as to whether the hair should be removed or left alone. In many cases, if your dog's ears are healthy and not causing any problems, the best option may be to leave the hair alone. However, thick hair growth inside the ear canal can interfere with your dog's ability to clean his ears effectively and can also serve as a trap for debris and discharge from the ear canal. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian.
Regular cleaning of your dog's ears also provides a good opportunity to examine your dog's ears for signs of problems. Watch for signs such as tenderness, discharge, redness or smell in your dog's ears. If these signs develop, consult your veterinarian.
Feed a Good Diet to Maintain General Health
Feeding a complete and balanced diet with high quality ingredients can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy, including his ears.
If your dog is on a special diet because of a food allergy or food intolerance, try not to alter his diet more than absolutely necessary.
Keep Your Dog Free from Parasites
A good diet will help your dog overcome the disease associated with some types of parasites. However, you should still do everything possible to prevent external and internal parasites, particularly those like fleas that can contribute to skin and ear disease.
About the Author:
About the author: Alana D. Frazier is a copywriter at the write my essay service. Besides, she is fond of learning something new so that she tries to keep up with advancing technologies.