Ear infections (Otitis externa) are much more common during the Wet Season and Build-up. Ears are a little like gardens which normally have a carefully cultivated and controlled population of bacteria and yeasts. But like a garden, the high humidity may cause abundant growth which can sometimes become unruly and out of control.
Normal ear canals house many different types of bacteria and yeasts (fungi) and it is possible for any of these to grow out of control. This makes each individual ear infection quite variable, which can sometimes mean a challenging search for the most effective treatment. Ear infections may require laboratory tests to determine the bug or bugs causing the problem.
Early treatment is the most successful. Once an ear infection has become well established it can be very difficult to get rid of. It is like a garden that has had lots of weeds gone to seed in it and ongoing intensive treatment may be necessary.
Hairy ear canals and floppy ear flaps can trap wax, dirt and humid air in the ears, giving the germs plenty of encouragement and fertile ground. Occasionally a grass seed or splinter can also lodge in the ear and cause an infection.
Sometimes ear infections will cause the eardrum to rupture. Putting certain medications down an ear with a ruptured eardrum can risk causing temporary or permanent deafness. Therefore it is important for us to check your petís eardrums before anything is put down the ear canal. Sometimes the ear is so painful and full of muck that your pet may need to be anaesthetised before the eardrum can be examined.
Checking your dogís ears regularly especially during the humid times of year, will help you detect early infections. If they have a lot of hair in their ear canal it is best to remove it by plucking. Your vet or groomer can do this for you or show you how.
If there is ever a bad smell or discharge from your petís ear, or if they paw at their ear or shake their head or hold their head on the side, prompt treatment could save your pet from a difficult and ongoing problem.