Full Title: Canine Ear
Author: Claudia Larson
Date of Publication: April 8, 2015
Research Paper Text:
Providing an ear massage to your dog is a way to help your dog bond with you and at the same time, check the dog’s health. Gently rub around the base of the dog’s ear (pinna). “Hold the base of the ear with one hand, take the earflap between the fingers and thumb of the other hand and run in a circular fashion – from the base of the ear to its tip.” 6
This provides an opportunity to see if your dog’s ears are pink and odorless or have a black discharge and smelly. Check with your veterinarian if you question the condition of the ear.
The information below with help you to learn about the various diseases your dog could encounter and what can be done to correct them. First, some descriptions of the ear structure.
The canine ear is made up of three sections:
- The external ear consists of the pinna or ear flap, what we commonly thing of as the dog’s ear.
- The vertical ear canal connects the outer ear to the horizontal ear.
- The horizontal ear canal connects the vertical ear canal to the middle ear.
The function of the ear canal is to connect the outer ear to the middle and inner ears so that sound can be transmitted to the brain.
This structure, both vertical and horizontal ear canal, together are a “J” shaped structure.
“The horizontal ear canal is lined by specialized skin approximately 1mm thick, rich is sebaceous glands, associated with hair follicles (oily secretions) and cerumen producing glands, which secrete a mixture of degenerating epithelial cells in a fatty [lipid] base and are deeper into the skin”. “cerumen resists moisture and thus, under normal conditions functions to keep the ear canals relatively dry.” 1
Causes of Otitis Externa:
Ear moisture promotes bacteria growth. In dogs with floppy ears, this moisture build-up will be greater, so more attention should be paid to this possibility. “Staphylococcus intermedius, Mircrococcus species and occasionally coliforms are the most common bacteria isolated from normqal ears. The yeast Malassezia canis is another common inhabitant of normal canine ears which, given the correct circumstance, can overgrow. Sources of moisture include environmental humidity, frequent baths, and swimming.” 3
“Ear mites are tiny parasites that live out their life cycle inside the ear canal. They are quite common and can cause severe irritation and itchiness of the ears.” The most common ear mite of cats and dogs is Otodectes cynotis, and therefore an infestation with ear Mites is sometimes called otodectic mange.
Ear mites primarily live in the ear canal, where they feed on skin debris. Their presence causes in-flammation, and can also lead to secondary ear infection. While ear mites are generally found in the ears, they can also wander out onto the body, causing irritation and itchiness of the skin as well. Eggs are laid in the ear canal and take about three weeks to hatch.
Some allergic diseases, such as inhalant allergic diseases, food allergy and flea allergy can affect ear canal. About half of all dogs with atopic dermatitis develop ititis externa. This can be complicated by bacterial or yeast infections.
“Endocrine-related otitis is often accompanied by seborrhea in the dog, and the presence of a waxy Secretion frequently contributes to otitis. Hypothryoidism is the most common endocrine cause of Chronic otitis externa, others include Sertoli cell tumors and ovarian imbalances.” 4
Lesions are often found in the ear canal and can be caused by immune system diseases, such as systemic and discoid lupus erthymatosus, perphigus foliaceous and pemphigus erthamotosus.
Anal sac disease, fever and the canine distemper virus can also cause otitis externa.Ulceration of the canal skin can occur with chronic otitis externa. The ear canal can narrow and become obliterated by bond tissue.
Symptoms of Otitis Externa:
Dogs who constantly “paw” their ears, shake their heads, or have ear odors, should be checked for ear disease. A brown or yellow discharge may occur within the canal and/or pinna. This may indicate ear mites or bacteria.
The skin lining the ear canal thickens and the other layer may ulcerate if the condition becomes chronic.
Skin lesions and mange may appear on other body areas also as a result of these bacteria and skin mites.
Checking the Dog’s Ears:
Pull up the ear flap if dog has floppy ears. The edges of the ear may be torn due to excessive scratching. A hemotoma (blood collection) between skin and hair or even torn cartilage may be apparent. Swelling may be evident or the dog may howl with pain.
A simple ear cleaning may be all that is necessary. Check with your vet for proper ear cleaning solution for the situation. Use a dilute peroxide or vinegar will suffice in many cases. Don’t damage the dog’s ears with excessive cleaning. For most dogs with prick ears, once a month is enough.
Have ready an ear wash solution and cotton balls. You may need tweezers to pluck hair From the ear if there is excessive hair. Q tips may be uswed if you use only on the edge of the ear. Never put the tip down the ear canal. Squeeze the solution into the ear canal, just a few millimeters. Don’t force the tip of the bottle into the canal. It could rupture the ear drum. The dog will shake it head immediately to shake out some solution. At the base of the ear, massage the wash solution throughout the canal. Use a cotton ball to remove the discharge from the ear.
If the dog’s ear has excessive wax or build-up, the medication may not work as well. Consult your vet for advice.
Some vets prefer homeopathic methods and products such as acupuncture. Acupuncture of the pinna treats infections and conditions of the entire body. Acupuncture is also used to treat ear conditions and diseases vs use of antibiotic and other “medicines”.
Remove mites and discharge by cleaning the ear thoroughly. “One method to restrain the dog is to place him/her on a table. Stand on the side of the table opposite to the ear you are medicating. …Drape your right arm over the dog’s shoulders. Wrap your left arm around the head and neck and use the finger tips of the left hand to push the ear flap back and up to expose the inner surface of the ear. If the dog tries to stand, lean your upper body over his/her shoulders to prevent him/her from rising.
“If your dog is too wiggly, try laying him/her on his/her side. Reach over his/her neck with your left arm and firmly grasp the elbow of the leg closest to the table. Always hold the leg close to the elbow, NOT close to the toes. Keep your elbow on his/her neck to prevent him/her from picking up his/her head. Use fingers of your right hand to pull back the ear flap to expose the inner side of the ear. If the ear flaps are long, you can tuck the ear flap under your left elbow. Holding the medication bottle in your right hand, place the prescribed number of drops of medication into the ear.” 5 Use an over-the-counter medication or one prescribed by the veterinarian.
The life cycle of a mite is three weeks so treatments should extend through the three week period. For monthly treatment, follow the vet’s recommended schedule of dosing for ear mites.
Surgery can be used for unresponsive and chronic situations as well as tissue or tumors Obstructing the ear canal.
Bacteria infections are treated with antibiotics.
Topical antifungal solutions are prescribed for yeast infections.
“Lateral ear canal resection, in which the outside wall of the vertical canal is excised and a permanent opening is created, improving drainage of the horizontal canal and overall canal ventilation. Vertical ear ablation, involves removing the entire vertical ear canal and reclosing the skin, leaving a small drainage hole at the opening of the horizontal ear canal. Finally, total ear canal ablation removes both the horizontal and vertical ear canals, and recloses the skin. These surgical procedures may also be employed for tumor removal. These surgeries provide ease of cleaning and treatment of the ear only. There may be Underlying causes of otitis at other locations in the body which have to be treated.
Injectible Ivermectyin can also be used. All pets in the home should be treated at the Same time, even if they show no symptoms.
(THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR VETERINARY CARE.)
- Newman, Robert, DVM, Newmanveterinary.com/Ears. Pg 2, Internet. Accessed 6-11-2014.
- Kainer, Robert A. DVM, MS and McCracken, Thomas O., MS, Dog Anatomy, A Coloring Atlas, Plate 44, Teton New Media, 2003. Priest, Sandra A., DVM, All About Ears, Understanding heath and disease of the canine ear. AKC Gazette, February, 1992, PP66-73. Internet, accessed 6-11-14. Ear Mites, Signs, Diagnosis and Treatment of Ear Mites, Lianne McLeon, DVM,
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- Kidd, Randy, DVM, PhD, The Whole Dog Journal, “Structure of the Canine Ear,” http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/7_10/Canine-Ear_15661-1.html.
- Brooks, Wendy C., DVM, DipABVP, Lateral Ear Resection, The Pet Health Library, http://veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx. Accessed 6-11-014.
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