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Chronic Ear Infections/Video Otoscopy

Chronic ear infections are one of the most commonly seen problems in dogs. They can also be seen in cats but occur less frequently.

Adobe Animal Hospital is one of very few veterinary hospitals equipped with the most advanced tools and training to diagnose and treat this serious problem. Dr. Glynn has been trained through the Advanced Laser Surgery and Video-otoscopy courses at U.C. Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, and has been performing laser surgical procedures as well as irrigation and cleaning inside the ear canal and middle ear cavity (bulla) since 2003.

Chronic ear infections are painful for your pet and can lead to permanent hearing loss. The Video Otoscope allows the doctor to better visualize the entire ear canal, ear drum and middle ear through the natural ear opening. Previously, these areas were only accessible with invasive surgery into the bulla (in the base of the skull). Getting to the middle ear is critical. One study found that 80% of dogs with chronic ear infections had infection in the middle ear (or bulla). If this is not identified and treated, the ear infection remains hidden and frequently re-infects the outer ear canal leading to continued pain and potential hearing loss.


Signs of ear infection;

  • Pain around the head or ears
  • Behavior changes including depression and irritability
  • Head shaking
  • Odor and/or discharge from ear opening or red, inflamed ear flaps
  • Scratching or rubbing the ears with a paw or on the floor or furniture
  • Head tilt, loss of balance

Normal canine left eardrum

Causes of chronic, recurrent ear infections

One of the most important steps in dealing with this condition is to identify and treat the underlying cause. These can include:

  • Allergies – both inhalant allergies (atopy) and food allergies
  • Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Disease and other endocrine disorders
  • Foreign material trapped deep in the ear canal or middle ear
  • Growths, polyps and tumors in the ear canal
  • Resistant bacterial or yeast infections (often caused by the overuse of ineffective medications)
  • Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Aids (FIV) infections in cats
  • Autoimmune diseases including Lupus
  • Ear mites (usually seen in young kittens)

Infected canine external/middle ear


Treating serious, chronic ear infections and preventing their return requires a thorough and systematic approach and usually includes;

  • Thorough physical exam
  • Ear cytology
  • Complete blood count, chemistries and thyroid levels
  • Bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivities
  • Deep ear cleaning under anesthesia and eardrum evaluation
  • Flushing/drying of bulla and instillation of antibiotics (generally performed weekly for 3 to 4 treatments)
  • Daily home treatments between bulla flushes
  • Maintenance treatment once infection has cleared


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