Chronic Ear Infections in Dogs
Hope for chronic ear infections.
T. J. Dunn, DVM |
Posted: Mon Jun 27 00:00:00 PDT 2005
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Normally there are a variety of microorganisms in balanced populations throughout a dog's body. When out of balance, conditions arise for one or more types of organisms to flourish, opening a window of opportunity for infection. Moisture from rain, swimming, or bathing can carry foreign organisms into the ear canal and create just such an imbalance. Spaniels and Golden Retrievers seem especially prone to chronic ear problems. Allergies that trigger destructive cellular chemicals can predispose ear canal tissues to lower their guard against invaders. Genetic programming may encourage extra sebum production on the skin and in the canals, creating conditions favorable for organism growth. Trauma to the lining of the ear canal during hair plucking or too vigorous cleaning can allow easier access of the organisms to vulnerable surface tissues.
What to Do
Be proactive! Let your vet know about ear problems as soon as possible, and request follow-up visits to be certain that all signs of infection have really cleared up.
Determine the underlying cause with an ear culture, while controlling allergic triggers wherever possible. Ensure a proper diet is being fed (this may include an elimination diet, to see if your dog has developed sensitivity to any ingredients in his regular feed), and continue appropriate therapy long enough to allow for healing. I want a cure and no further problems for my clients. If they take a casual attitude about treatment, however, the chance of scar tissue formation and the hypersecretion of sebum greatly increases.
Chronic, Non-Responsive Infections
There is hope for dogs with constricted, scarred, secreting, and painful ears, due to long-term refractory infections. If repeated use of antibiotics and allergy medications fail, and flushing, culture and sensitivity tests, ear washes, ointments, drops, and prayer do not resolve the difficulties, odds are the patient is no longer classified as a medical patient ... at that point, he becomes a surgical patient. Lateral ear canal resection, where the outer half of the vertical portion of the ear canal is removed along with exuberant external scar tissue, has a high probability of making a remarkable and rewarding impact on a long-suffering dog. (A more radical "total ear canal ablation" may be required in advanced external and middle ear disease, and is usually performed by a specialist in veterinary surgery.) The surgical procedure on the ear canal eliminates much of the chronically affected tissue, allows for removal of offending scar tissue, and opens the ear canal to fresh air. It allows easy access for occasional cleaning and maintenance, and essentially converts the ear canal to a very poor incubator of microorganisms.Page 1 | 2 | 3
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