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"INFECTED EARS" (EXTERNAL): Also known as "Otitis Externa" Are very annoying to the dog and may possbly lead to otitis media and hearing difficulties.

The Cause is usually bacterial, and may be subsequent to an ear mite (arachnid) infestation and buildup of dirt and waxy materials. A fungal infection may co-exist. Sometimes, the cause is direct trauma to the ear flap after scratching or play, which allows an ordinarily inactive organism, the ability to multiply and cause harm.

Appearance: At first, the dog my just appear agitated or may be scratching at the affected ear. In advanced cases (probably also involving the middle ear, the dog will keep his head cocked to one side with the affected ear downward and will shy away if you attempt to touch the ear. On close observation of the ear, the inside surface will appear reddish pink and will feel hot and even a bit swollen. The dog will let you know that even light touching is painful. You will most also probably see dark gooey deposits (dirt mixed with sebum) and it will smell bad. Upon cleaning the inside of the ear once, the deposits seem to return in just one day!.

Treatment: Hopefully, you will catch the problem before the ear problem advances. It is always best to take the dog to the vet for a view of the ear scraping under a microscope so that specific treatment can be directed to the causitive agent (bacteria vs. mites vs fungus vs non-specific inflammation). Any dog that is in severe pain, or does not allow you to examine the ear or any dog that seems to have a stumbling gait, should be taken to the vet without delay. If you feel comfortable, and your dog allows you, carefully search the inside ear-flap for any breaks in the skin or crusts (which may indicate insect or flea bites, as well) Use 3% Hydrogen peroxide (HO) on a guaze or Q-tip and gently clean the flap and the lower ear, but don't go further down than you can see, or you may cause further injury. If the gooey deposits are stubborn, using a small amount of rubbing alcohol on guaze may help. In any case, use a small amount of alcohol at this point to remove built up sebum. Then, use a cortico-steroid/ antibiotic cream (such as Panalog) on the inner surface of the earflap and downward (to the level at which you can see. Repeat the HO-Alcohol cleaning with the topical steroid-antibiotic cream two or three times a day. If there is no improvement within 4 days, you may need to add an anti-fungal cream (such as Miconazole or Nystatin). Ear mites respond to topical treatment with "Cerumite" (squalane 25%). Once again, if your dogs seems "sick", or ha a fever, you will need to have a vet examination and possible script for P.O. antibiotics.