What are Ear Dermatitis?
Some of the causes of ear dermatitis are mites, mange, allergy, injury, fissures, and seborrhea. Even though these conditions seem like no big deal, your pet would definitely disagree. The intense itching and subsequent pain can be a constant annoyance and may lead to scarring. If your dog scratches enough to break the skin, infection is likely to occur due to the germs under the nails and the dirt your pet enjoys to play in when outdoors.
There are many types of skin conditions that can irritate the outside of the ear (pinna), and most are secondary to dermatitis elsewhere. It is uncommon for a skin disorder to only affect the ear, so if your dog is suffering from itchy ears, redness, and inflammation, it is likely that there is a skin condition going on somewhere else. However, if your dog has ear mites, which is one of the most common reasons for ear dermatitis, the ears may be the only part of the body affected.
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Symptoms of Ear Dermatitis in Dogs
The signs of ear dermatitis can vary depending on the cause, but they almost all cause itchiness and redness. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all and the problem is found during a veterinary examination for another illness or a routine checkup. However, in 90% of all dermatitis cases, the common symptoms you will see are:
- Scratching ears
- Chewing on ears
- Hair loss around ears
- Redness and swelling
- Foul smelling discharge
- Scabs, lesions
- Shaking head
- Crusting or scaling on ear edges
- Allergies can be caused by contact, food, or pollen and presents in many ways including intense scratching anywhere on the body including the ears
- Cellulitis is an infection of the skin usually called juvenile cellulitis because it almost exclusively affects young dogs between one and four months old; signs of this may include little pus-filled bumps on raised red skin
- Injury may be from bites from other animals, burns, and lacerations
- Mange is a seriously contagious disorder that can produce hair loss, redness, swelling, severe itchiness, and is caused by ear mites
- Seborrhea is dry, scaly skin usually showing up in cold weather
Causes of Ear Dermatitis in Dogs
- Any dog can develop skin problems; Golden Retrievers, Gordon Setters, and Dachshunds appear to be at greater risk than other breeds
- German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards and Golden Retrievers seem to be predisposed to developing acute moist dermatitis, also known as hot spots
- Dogs living in hot humid climates, and long-haired breeds, are also at increased risk
- Because the causes of dermatitis are so varied, there is really no way to accurately generalize about which breeds or mixed breeds are predisposed to developing skin irritation
Diagnosis of Ear Dermatitis in Dogs
The veterinarian will do a complete physical of your pet, which usually includes a thorough skin and coat assessment, weight, body temperature, blood pressure, reflexes, pupil reaction time, pulse and respiratory rates, lung sounds, and oxygen levels. In addition, the veterinarian may do an intensive ear examination using an otoscope to get a good view of the inner ear canal. Your dog will likely be sedated for this procedure to prevent more pain and stress. At this time, the veterinarian will be able to get some skin scrapings and samples of the lesions for microscopic evaluation. These will be used for bacterial and fungal cultures as well to determine whether there is any kind of infestation involved. Other diagnostic tests include a complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, serum biochemistry analysis, and metabolic profile, needed to get a more definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of Ear Dermatitis in Dogs
The cause of the dermatitis needs to be determined before a treatment plan can be made since there are different treatments for each type.
Allergies can be treated with an antihistamine injection, but it may be the most complex to treat because you have to determine what your pet is allergic to, which may be difficult. The veterinarian may also send you to see a veterinary dermatologist for further allergy tests.
Since this is caused by infection, the veterinarian will usually give your pet an injection of antibiotic.
An injury is treated depending on what caused the injury. A burn can be treated with burn cream, frostbite may need amputation, bug bites are treated with antiseptic and insect repellent cream, animal bites are usually treated with corticosteroids and antiseptic. All of these injuries will also need antibiotics to prevent or clear up infection.
There are two types of mange, which are sarcoptic and demodectic, and they are both extremely contagious so you have to keep your pet away from other pets. Afoxolaner, permethrin, ivermectin, selamectin, and sulfurated lime rinse are all effective treatments is the treatment, usually done a few times over several months.
This disorder can be treated with mild soap and water and moisturizer, but it is a lifetime disorder so once you find a good treatment, stick with it.
Recovery of Ear Dermatitis in Dogs
Prognosis is good since this disorder is more annoying than dangerous. If you are able to determine the cause after alleviating the itchiness and pain, you should continue to observe your pet to be sure. Some medications can have side effects, so be sure to ask your veterinarian what you should be watching for.
Ear Dermatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
my 15 months old female alpha blue blood first she was shaking her head like she had something in it so swab her ears out i also had got some flush now shes scratching her ears like crazy and shaking her head i don't have money for vet but i can get the money for meds she is in misery
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What causes psoriasis looking patches in my Goldens ears? Nothing in her diet has changed. What can I put on them, they are red, too. She in not scarching them.
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