Ear Infections

Ear Infections

Dog at the Vet

Inflammation of the ears occurs in cats and dogs when the ear canal glands in the lining of the ear enlarge and produce a lot of wax.1 This usually occurs due to allergies, infection, or an accumulation of hair or dead skin in the ear canal.1

A chronic inflammation of the external ear canal is called otitis externa. This causes itchiness, redness, and pain. When it's chronic, or untreated, it can lead to otitis media.1

Some symptoms of otitis externa include1:

Area of Otitis Externa
  • Pain
  • Shaking of the head
  • Scratching
  • Bad odor
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Otitis media is inflammation of the middle ear, and is usually the next step after untreated or chronic otitis externa.1 Fluid buildup from inflammation can cause a rupture in the membrane between the external ear and middle ear (the eardrum).1,2

Dogs and cats of all ages and breeds can be affected by otitis externa—however, dog breeds with longer ears, hairier external ear canals, or smaller ear canals tend to be more susceptible.1 Breeds most prone to otitis externa include1,2:

Breeds Prone to Otitis Externa

Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, German Shepherds, Hounds, Terriers, and Shar Pei

Young pets can also get otitis externa, most often caused by ear mites.2

Most cases of otitis externa and otitis media can be treated with antibacterial, corticosteroid, anti-yeast, or antiseptic drops.1 If your veterinarian finds an infectious organism in your pet’s ear, he may prescribe an oral antibiotic or antifungal. A corticosteroid may also be used to reduce inflammation and pain.1

Some products for canine otitis externa combine an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and an antifungal to help ensure your pet's otitis externa does not progress to the middle ear. For first-time infections or infrequent ear infections, ask your veterinarian about Otomax® or Mometamax®. If your dog has frequent infections, or a severe ear infection, he or she may prescribe Posatex®.


  1. PetMD. Inflammation of the middle ear and external ear canal in dogs. http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/ears/c_multi_otitis_externa_and_otitis_media. Accessed April 21, 2014.
  2. American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Otitis externa. https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/otitis-externa. Accessed April 21, 2014.