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Social Butterfly July 15, 2004

Dr Dorota Pearson, DVM


Ear Infections - Otitis Externa

Ear Infections - Otitis Externa


Low numbers of bacteria and yeast are normally found in the external ear canals of dogs and cats.  Disturbances of the normal flora allow bacteria and yeast organisms to overgrow the ear canal.  A thorough search for an underlying cause should always be made.  The most common cause of otitis externa in cats is infection with ear mites.  Dogs also are commonly affected.  Typically, there is black ear debris of “coffee ground” consistency, although in some animals, otic discharge may be minimal to absent.  Dogs may be predisposed to recurring ear infections if they have heavy, pendulous ears or excess hair in the ear canals.  The accumulation of cerumen (ear wax) and moisture from poor air circulation predisposes these dogs to secondary ear infections.  Yeast otitis may occur in dogs that swim or get water in their ears during their bath.  Dogs with allergic diseases such as atopy, (an allergey affecting the feet), and food allergy are prone to develop recurring ear infections.  Typically, the inner surface of the ear becomes inflamed and the dog may scratch or shake its ears.  In chronic cases, the ear canals become inflamed and secondary yeast otitis may develop.  Other causes of otitis externa include fungal infection, sis, foreign bodies, and tumorsa.  Diagnostic evaluations routinely includes an otoscopic exam, microscopic exam of ear debris, and gram stain of ear exudate.


If you have any questions about the health of your pet, call us at 598 2512.