We treat between 70 and 100 cases of ear disease in dogs each year. Ear disease is a common and sometimes long-standing and frustrating problem. Although quite severe ear disease seems to be tolerated by dogs, it is only after the disease has been treated when the dog is so much brighter and happier that we realise the degree of suffering that unresolved ear disease can cause. It is often seen in dogs with allergic diseases, particularly atopic dermatitis and tends to be a recurrent progressive condition. However, with the right treatment and management, it can be successfully controlled in most cases. The dog's ear canal is a long narrow tube lined with skin. It naturally produces ear wax that is moved up and out of the ear canal by a sort of escalator system. If the ear canal starts to become inflamed, as is often the case in dogs suffering from atopic dermatitis, two things happen: the ear canal canal produces more wax and the escalator system stops working. This results in the rapid build up of excessive amounts of ear wax that produces an environment that is favourable for the growth of yeast and bacteria and the development of infection, this makes the ear even more inflamed and the cycle continues.
Key to management of ear disease is to thoroughly clean the ear canal and keep it clean. The video-otoscope that we have in the practice allows an unsurpassed view into the ear canal and facilitates effective ear cleaning. The video is of the ear canal of Max, a chocolate Labrador with allergic ear disease, before, during and at the end of cleaning. Prior to this procedure, Max was having his ear cleaned by his owner at home. Note how clean the ear is at the end of the video. A six month episode of ear disease finally settled down following this cleaning procedure.