This Month's Highlight on Health

In general, ear related problems fall into 3 primary categories: Infectious, parasitic, and foreign bodies.

Ear Problems

Ear problems in our patients seems to be a year round issue, although the number of problems increase in the early spring.  There are several tools that allow us to make an appropriate diagnosis.  The most important tool to evaluate the ear is the Otoscope.  Some of our patients may require sedation in order to thoroughly evaluate the ear if they are nervous or the ear is painful.  External ear canals that become red and painful are known as having Otitis externa (Inflammation of the external ear canal).  In general, ear related problems fall into 3 primary categories: Infectious, parasitic, and foreign bodies.


Ear infections are typically caused by either bacteria, yeast or a combination of the two.  In order to identify what the causative organism is, an ear cytology will be obtained.  The sample is rolled out onto a slide and a stain is then applied that will help us identify the type of infection.  Treatment of the ear is usually a combination of cleaning the excess debris from the ear canal and then utilizing the appropriate antibiotic or anti-fungal agent.  Pain medication may also be prescribed.


Ear mites and ear ticks are the most common parasites seen in dogs and cats.  The ​vast majority of ear mite infestations in our practice are seen in cats.  This is also true of ear ticks although both can be seen in the dog as well.  Both ear mites and ticks are easily seen with the Otoscope.  Mites are highly transmittable to other animals in the household and for that reason if one animal is diagnosed with mites it is recommended to treat the entire household.

Foreign Bodies

Central Oregon is an amazing place for dogs and cats...Except when it comes to late Spring and Early Summer when the Cheat ​Grass and Foxtails start to bloom and dry out.  These pesky grass awns fall into the ear canal as our patients enjoy as romp in the back yard or fields where these weeds thrive.  Once they get into the ear canal they are an extreme irritant and our patients will shake their ​ears or tilt their head.  Left untreated they often times create secondary infections and often puncture the ear drum.  Removal of these grass awns is very painful to our patients due to the flare of the seed.  As a result, we will provide our patients with a mild sedative and utilize the ​Otoscope along with an alligator forcep to remove the Foxtail or Cheat Grass.


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