Overview of Ear Diseases

Otitis externa is the medical term for ear inflammation. Most cases of otitis externa also have an infection that is causing the ear inflammation.

The structure of the ear in dogs and cats can make them more prone to ear infections. The ear canal in dogs and cats is longer than the ear canal in people. The ear canal is also “L-shaped” with vertical and horizontal parts.

Because only some dogs and cats develop ear infections, other conditions often contribute to the development of otitis externa and ear infections in your pet.  Allergies, parasites, and masses or tumors can all cause ear irritation and infection. Allergies are the most common cause of ear infections in dogs and cats. Since an ear infection can be secondary to an underlying problem, it is often important to diagnose and treat the cause of the ear infection while treating the ear infection.

An ear infection can develop into a severe health problem for a dog or cat. Left untreated, ear infections can spread deeper into a pet’s ear (middle ear infection) and cause permanent damage to the ear canal (ear canal mineralization). Some chronic ear infections can develop resistance to antibiotics and become untreatable with medications.