Dermatology: Ears

Ear disease is common in dogs, accounting for approximately 20% of all cases seen by vets. Recurring infections are often due to underlying causes such as allergies, and it is important that the owner and vet work together to reach a full diagnosis. Ear disease is more common in dogs, and certain breeds are more to developing disease. It is less common in cats and can be due to ear mites in this species.



Signs of ear disease include shaking the head, scratching at the ears, reddened and inflamed ears as well as a discharge from the ear which may have a foul odour.


The causes of ear disease are complex. Each patient may have multiple contributing causes and factors. These are grouped in to primary and secondary causes and predisposing and perpetuating factors. Primary causes directly cause the ear to be “abnormal” with inflammation. Atopic disease (environmental allergies) and food allergies are two of the most common primary causes, although other causes, such as ear mites, do occur. Secondary causes develop in an abnormal ear and include infections with yeast and bacteria. Predisposing factors make ear disease more likely and include things such as narrow ear canals or pendulous ears. Perpetuating factors prevent the ear disease from resolving and include middle ear infections and chronic inflammatory changers. It is important for vets to identify which components affect the pet, and they may need to conduct several tests and recommend multiple management techniques.

Dechra has a range of topical treatments that target the secondary infections and inflammation. It is important for owners to apply the treatments as and when directed and to return for follow up assessments.