Frequent shaking with head, unrest, aggression or on the contrary, a depression, rubbing of the area with the paw, against the carpet, often associted with unpleasant smell originating in the ears, which also lose their shape and are sensitive to touch might all be symptoms of the ear canal inflammation (otitis externa). It is a very frequently encoutered condition and a common reason to visit the veterinary doctor. It is estimated, that 20% of dogs suffer from this condition at some part in their life, many of them repeatedly.

Zánět zevního zvukovodu psůWhat are the reasons for ear canal inflammation?In fact, there could be numerous reasons. The most common one is allergy (atopy, nutritional allergy), parasite ( ear scabies), infection by bacteria and yeast, foreign bodies (plant seeds, stings), traumatic wounds or hormonal imbalance, often caused by malfunction of the thyroid gland. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to the infections as the result of ear anatomy, which might cause higher humidity, ear canal obstruction with hair, the canal constriction due to previously experienced infections etc. In dogs suffering from allergy, the ear canal inflammation is often the first way an allergy manifests itself. During the allergy, the natural bacterial composition of the ear changes which brings about a secondary infection by bacteria and yeasts. In this case, the treatment of such an infection might not be successful if the primary cause i.e. allergy isn’t also eliminated. The ear scabies of dogs and cats is most frequently caused by a paraisite Otodectes cynotis. Some animals may develop a hypersensitive reaction to this parasite, which brings very intenste urge to scratch and the animals may cause themselves serious injuries. The injuries are a breeding ground for a variety of bacteria and notably yeast of the Malassezia spp. A healthy ear is well equipped to combat such pathogens, however, a weakened ear immunity- due to allergies, hormonal changes or anatomical predispisitons contribute to very fast growth of the aforementioned infections. In dog breeds with large overhanging lobes, the increased humidity and temperature further contribute to the infection spread.

Due to the number of factors involved in ear canal inflammation, the correct diagnosis needs to be done carefully. The veterinary doctor will examine your dog with an otoscope to evaluate the seriousness of the infection, possible damage to the ear drum and if applicable remove any foreign bodies present. It is also common to take a swab for microscopic examination. Such test will reveal parasites, bacteria or yeast present and enables for correct diagnosis. Based on the complete examination, the veterinary may propose further test if hormonal disorders or allergies might be present.

Treating of external ear canal depends on the secondary effects that have taken place. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, antimycotic are against yeasts. In both cases, the result of treatment depends heavily on susceptibility of the organism to the active compound. Common component of a number of broad spectrum medicines are glucocorticoids which decrease inflammation. An alternative to using conventional antibiotic and antimycotic based products, ear drops with content of silver proved very effective. Such products suppress the growth of bacteria and yeasts and decrease inflammation. Silver is effective in formulations, provided the nanoparticles are in direct contact with the affected tissue and moisture. Such condition may, however, be hard to fulfil if the ear canal has been narrowed down as a result of multiple bouts of inflammation. If the main cause of ear canal inflammation is due to systemic disorder such as allergy and hormonal disbalance, adequate treatment should be chosen. In case repeated infection occurs, despite the best effort of a veterinary, conventional antibiotic based preparations may cease to have an effect. To prevent such unpleasant situation, silver nanoparticle containing products are a great option. Successful treatment of inflammation requires frequent care and cleaning using the correct technique which will be shown to you by your vet.