This is a request that we quite commonly hear. I certainly understand that it may seem sensible that the ointment that worked last time should work again this time. And maybe it would – or maybe the problem is different this time. We certainly don’t want to mess with your furry buddy’s hearing and put them through the pain of an ear infection any longer than need be.
Recurring ear infections can be a common problem in both dogs and cats. This can be due to floppy down hairy ears staying moister and more humid than is good for them. Not every animal has ears that can deal with the humidity of the tropics! Allergies can also affect the skin in the external ear canal along with the skin elsewhere and cause inflammation that can then become infected with bacteria and yeast.
Assessing an irritated ear involves looking into the canal to check the ear drum is intact, the state of the skin inside the ear, and the type of discharge present. The discharge can give us enormous amounts of information about the type of ear ointment to take off the shelf to use. Each ear ointment has a range of ingredients and that act on a certain region of the bacterial and yeast population. We need to match the type of discharge to the type of ear medication to get the result we want.
The discharge may then need to be removed from the ear canal to give the ear medication a chance to be effective and have access to the whole canal. Sometimes this may involve a sedation to allow thorough cleaning and suctioning of the debris.
Our end result – a happy, healthy ear after a bit of hard work from both you and the vet taking care of your pet.