What is otitis?

Otitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the ear. There are three types of otitis: otitis externa, otitis media and otitis interna. Otitis externa refers to the chronic inflammation of a dog or cat’s external ear canal, while otitis media refers to a middle ear infection, and otitis interna is the swelling of their inner ear.


What are the symptoms?

Otitis can affect dogs and cats of any age or breed, but it’s thought that long-eared dogs, such as spaniels, and dogs with hairy external ear canals, such as poodles, are more susceptible to developing the condition.

Your pet’s symptoms will vary depending on the type of otitis they’re suffering from and how severe the infection is.

Common signs of otitis externa and otitis media include:

  • Head shaking
  • Seeming as if they’re in pain
  • Repeatedly scratching at their external ear flaps
  • The ear emitting a bad odour
  • The underside of the ear may be red or inflamed
  • Not wanting to be touched around the ear
  • Waxy brown, yellow or black discharge

If the infection has spread to the inner ear, leading to otitis interna, your pet may start to show these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination
  • Tilting of the head
  • Deafness
  • A grey bulging eardrum

 

 

The diagnosis

Diagnosing otitis externa can normally be achieved through a clinical examination. In more difficult or severe cases, such as when the infection has spread to the middle or inner ear, advanced diagnostic imaging may be needed to get an accurate diagnosis.

 

How do we treat otitis?

The treatment for your pet’s otitis will depend on which part of their ear is infected and how severe the infection is. Your specialist will be able to advise on the best course of action.

Otitis externa treatment: Treatment for otitis externa usually involves outpatient care, normally starting with a complete cleansing of the external ear. Once the ear is rinsed, a topical therapy of ear drops, tablets and cleaning solutions will be prescribed.

Otitis media and internal treatment: This will depend on the underlying cause.