What is Inflammation of the Middle Ear and External Ear Canal?
Inflammation of the middle ear and external ear canal (otitis media/external otitis) is an ear infection, which can be caused by so many different disorders that it is difficult to diagnose and treat. If your dog has pain, swelling, redness, waxy buildup, or discharge in his ear he could have otitis media or external otitis. There may also be an injury or a foreign body in the ear.
Inflammation of the middle ear and external ear canal is a common disease that is actually one of the hardest to cure. This condition can be caused by many things, such as ear mites, allergies, or infection. Some of the symptoms are pain, redness, discharge, and pawing at or rubbing the affected ear.
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Symptoms of Inflammation of the Middle Ear and External Ear Canal in Dogs
The main symptoms of ear inflammation are pain and redness. This could be in both ears or just one. Here are some more symptoms of inflammation of the middle ear and external ear canal:
- Visibly swollen ear canal
- Pawing or rubbing ear
- Shaking head
- Bad odor
- Head tilting
If your dog has any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian. Delay in diagnosis and treatment can prolong or intensify the problem and make it harder to treat.
There are two types of inflammation of the middle ear and external ear canal. While external otitis can be found without the occurrence of otitis media, they are most commonly seen concurrently.
- Inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media) is the infection of the tympanic cavity, which is the empty space between the eardrum and inner ear.
- Inflammation of the external ear canal (external otitis) is an infection of the external ear and ear canal
Causes of Inflammation of the Middle Ear and External Ear Canal in Dogs
Although inflammation of the middle ear and external ear canal can affect any dog, it is more often seen in certain breeds. Some of these breeds are Poodles, Terriers, Spaniels, and Retrievers. Their long ears and abundance of hair in the ear canals make their ears the perfect breeding ground for parasites and infection.
The age and health of the dog can also be a cause of the infection. Puppies are more often seen with this condition because of excessive moisture and smaller ear canals. Older dogs are also more susceptible because of the decline of their immune system and lack of grooming. Some of the most common causes of this condition are:
- Endocrine problems
- Skin disease
- Parasites (Mites, fleas, etc.)
- Fungus (Yeast)
- Moisture build-up
- Excess wax
Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Middle Ear and External Ear Canal in Dogs
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination of your dog’s ears. He will be looking for excess wax, swelling, injury, and redness. If your pup is in a lot of pain, the veterinarian will sedate him or put him under general anesthesia. Your veterinary caregiver will use a lighted or video otoscope to look further into the ear canal and tympanic membrane to check for foreign objects, swelling, changes in the skin, type of discharge, mites, fleas, or other parasites. Some of the other tests the doctor may perform are:
- Ear swab cytology to test for infections
- Bacterial culture
- Fungal culture
- Skin scraping to test for allergy
- Biopsy to check for cancer
If all of those tests come back negative, the veterinarian will get radiographs (x-rays) to check for obstructions or deformities. If the x-rays do not show anything unusual a CT scan, MRI, or Ultrasound will be performed.
Treatment of Inflammation of the Middle Ear and External Ear Canal in Dogs
The best treatment for this condition is for your veterinarian to clean the ear canal and flush it with antibiotic, antifungal, and antiseptic fluids. If your dog is in pain or agitated, your veterinarian will probably sedate him for this procedure to prevent any more stress or agitation.
If there is an infection present in the ear canal or eardrum, the veterinarian may give your dog an injection of antibiotics and corticosteroids. The steroids reduce swelling and the antibiotics will treat the infection. He may also prescribe some anti-fungal or antibacterial ointments, such as Otomax or the liquid Mometamax Otic Suspension.
If a malignant tumor is found, it must be surgically removed to relieve the pressure and irritation to your dog’s ear canal and stop it from spreading. You will probably have to see a veterinary oncologist for this procedure since many veterinarians are not equipped to do this surgery. The operation is relatively safe and successful, depending on the size and placement of the tumor and the age and overall health of your dog.
After the surgery, if the cancer has spread, the oncologist will recommend several rounds of radiation treatments and chemotherapy. This will take about three months and will depend on the age and health of your dog as well as the aggressiveness of the cancer. You can expect many trips to the vet and the veterinary oncologist for treatment. These treatments are not a guarantee of a cure, but they will reduce the pain and slow the progression of the cancer.
Recovery of Inflammation of the Middle Ear and External Ear Canal in Dogs
Just as with most illnesses, home care and follow-up appointments are important for the success of the treatment. In most cases, your pooch will be back to normal in a few days, but be sure to follow all of the veterinarian’s directions and continue to give any medication as prescribed until it is gone unless otherwise directed. It is essential to continue to clean your dog’s ears thoroughly at least once daily until your follow-up appointment.
If your dog has had surgery, be sure to follow the doctor’s directions exactly and try to keep your pup from scratching or rubbing at the ear. An Elizabethan collar may be put on your dog to help keep him from disturbing the surgery area. If your pooch was diagnosed with cancer, the prognosis varies, but the oncologist and your veterinarian can better tell you what you can expect.