Our hospital offers thorough Ear Exams as one of our Dermatology Services. Conditions of the ears can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Symptoms like head shaking, scratching and pawing at the ears, rubbing the ears on the floor or furniture, whining, and abnormal odors are common. Conditions of the ear occur frequently in dogs and cats and result from a variety of causes. Determining these causes is vital to the long term resolution of the symptoms.
As with any other health issue, gathering a detailed history and performing a full examination of the patient are critical. Careful examination of the ear with an otoscope, visualizing the full length of the ear canal and the ear drum, provides information important to the diagnosis. Pain is common in ear disease and some patients will require sedation or anesthesia to be properly evaluated. Additional diagnostic tests are often warranted. Gathering samples to check for mites, inflammation, bacteria and yeast is a common first step. Cultures are sometimes needed.
In uncomplicated ear disease, treatment may be straight-forward when the proper information is gathered. However, most recurrent cases of ear disease involve multiple causes like allergy, infection, foreign bodies, tumors or ear mites. Treating only one cause will limit the response to therapy. Rechecking the ear after each stage of the treatment is critical to providing a long term resolution to the problem.