Five Mistakes Vets Make When Managing Canine Otitis Externa

Speaker: Andrew Carter

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Five Mistakes Vets Make When Managing Canine Otitis Externa

Every day in small animal practice we deal with cases of canine otitis. In most cases veterinarians make a quick diagnosis and successfully treat their canine patients, but some cases become more challenging. This lecture will discuss some of the common mistakes veterinarians make when dealing with canine Otitis Externa


1.     Don’t trust Owners (Or Your Colleagues)

This section will outline the common problem with trusting owners to assess for resolution and initiate treatment on their own.

2.     It’s about more than the bugs

This section will discuss what to do one the infection / infestation has resolved.

3.     You need to look deeper

Identifying the perpetuating problems, whether it is the underlying primary problem, chronic changes to the ear canals, the formation of biofilm or middle ear disease recurrent or prolonged cases require a thorough investigation to get resolution

4.     What are you teaching the patient

In our attempts to treat the dogs ears we sometimes forget that there is a thinking, feeling, emotional animal attached. Often dogs who have had recurrent or prolonged ear disease have had bad experiences associated with treatment. They may become reluctant to allow veterinarians or owners to treat them. We will consider the risk factors and options to reduce this.

5.     More medication is not always better

In many cases veterinarian and owners focusing on the indications for and benefits of medications applied to dogs ears without considering that the medications can exacerbate the problem. Most commonly there is maceration of the ear canal, but I am seeing more cases of atrophy associated with strong glucocorticoid use and sometimes even contact hypersensitivity.

Learning Objectives

Recognise owner & pet behaviour factors that may affect treatment and long term management of canine otitis.

Recognise and manage pain and discomfort associated with ear disease and its treatment. Be aware that poor pain management can trigger or exacerbate behavioural problems and affect long term management of canine otitis.

Recognise the primary causes and perpetuating factors that cause recurrent otitis.

Recognise when to refer challenging cases for medical or surgical management.

Recognise when veterinary treatment is causing more problems than it solves and identify alternative treatment options.