2024-06-13 19:18:47

Chronic Otitis Media in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

Chronic otitis is a long-term and common ear canal infection in dogs. It occurs due to humidity, yeast, and/or bacteria in the canal. If the infection lasts for an extended period, it can cause permanent damage to the ear. 

The signs of this infection include inflammation, irritation, pain, and deafness. This disease is typically caused by ear canal enlargement. 

Veterinarians often advise treating the bacteria or yeast with antibiotics or antifungal medications. These treatments are intended to manage and stop the symptoms from happening again.

In this blog, we’ll learn more about chronic otitis media, including its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.

What is a Chronic Otitis Media? 

COM is a persistent middle ear inflammation, a small air-filled cavity behind the eardrum. This inflammation persists for weeks or months, causing discomfort and can impact hearing.

If not diagnosed on time, ear discomfort and itching can become severe. They may also smell awful. Severe infections may lead to eardrum rupturing, chronic suppurative otitis media, middle and inner ear infections, deafness, and neurological symptoms. 

Treating the entire infection can be challenging, and symptoms may persist even after therapy.

Can Chronic Ear Infection Be Triggered by Other Canine Diseases? 

Yes, several underlying conditions can trigger chronic otitis media in dogs:  

Ear mites
Tumor or polyps
Thyroid diseases
Foreign object infection
Environmental allergies
Skin disorders (like a genetic disorder “seborrhoea”)

What Factors Prolong COM? 

Certain conditions can worsen or prolong the infection. These are known as "perpetuating factors" of COM, and managing them is crucial for successful treatment and preventing future problems.

The perpetuating factors of COM include the following: 

A malfunctioning self-cleaning system in the ear.
Inflammation and thickening cause the ear canal to narrow
Gland enlargement and hyperactivity, resulting in an excess of wax production.
Rupture of the eardrum, which indicates that the deep infections cannot be treated with topical medication.

How Will I Know My Pet Has an Ear Infection?

An external ear infection is initially established as local inflammation (redness, drainage). Your pet might rub its ears against the floor or furniture, shake its head, or scratch its ears. 

Animals may also moan or weep when they scratch and itch their ears if they have serious infections. Some pets scratch so much that the skin around their ears, neck, and face becomes infected from the nails. 

How Will My Veterinarian Diagnose Chronic Otitis Media?

Your veterinarian will examine the ear with a cotton swab to check for growth, discharge, redness, swelling, or other conditions. The swab is then studied under a microscope to identify the precise organisms. Your veterinarian may also take a sample of ear debris for sensitivity and culture testing.

In certain cases of extreme discomfort or difficulty examining the ears, your pet may require sedation. To improve ear inspection during under sedation, the ears can be gently cleansed to eliminate dirt. 

This is crucial to determine whether the eardrum is intact, to measure how narrow the canal has gotten, and to eliminate foreign things. 

Further, diagnostic procedures such as X-rays, CT or MRI imaging, and others may be conducted to find out if the middle or inner ear is also affected. It is necessary to do further testing to determine the underlying problems. 

How to Treat Chronic Ear Infections and Prevent Recurrence?  

Most animals with persistent ear infections can be treated at home after the infection is discovered. Veterinary-recommended oral medicine or liquids are inserted into the ear canal to treat most yeast and bacterial infections. 

Steroids are required to soothe your pet and reduce the edema surrounding their ear canals. Cleaning the ear canal of any wax or pus will almost always be necessary.

Although thyroid illness generally requires lifetime therapy, it is readily treated. Treatments for allergies and seborrheic dermatitis, such as steroids, ear drops, or ear cleaners, are frequently lifelong.

Wrapping Up! 

COM is a persistent ear infection that requires veterinary attention to diagnose the cause and prevent long-term damage. While symptoms like head shaking and odor are telltale signs, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. 

Surgery could be advised if there are lumps or tumors in the ear canal, if the damage is severe, or if the ear canals have been permanently restricted.

Find a licensed veterinarian near you through Search a Vet and schedule an appointment for the treatment of chronic otitis media in your canine fellow.

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