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Allergic otitis externa in the dog

02 March 2017
8 mins read
Volume 8 · Issue 2


Otitis externa is a common presenting sign in primary care practice. Up to 75% of all cases have allergy as an underlying cause. The veterinary nurse can play a valuable role in helping to investigate disease by cytology of aural discharge to identify parasites and infection; by the institution of a hypoallergenic diet to help rule out cutaneous adverse food reaction as a primary cause and by owner education on the best ways to clean ears and the most appropriate products to use.

Canine ear disease is a common presenting sign to the veterinary surgeon in primary care practice. While the management of otitis is not difficult; managing it well to produce a complete resolution of the disease and prevent recurrence can be more challenging. The veterinary nurse can play an important part in helping to manage ear disease. In order to treat ear disease effectively it is essential to have an appreciation of the fact that for every ear problem there is a primary cause, almost always a secondary infection, and both predisposing and perpetuating factors are present. The most important primary cause of otitis is allergy (Paterson, 2002; Saridomichelakis et al, 2007; Zur et al, 2011). Allergic triggers include atopic dermatitis (CAD); cutaneous adverse food reactions (CAFR) and contact allergy/irritancy. Of these CAD seems to be the most common being the primary cause of otitis in up to 75% of cases in one study (Paterson, 2002). Precise figures for other allergic triggers of otitis are not available in the literature but are, in the author's experience, far less common causes of disease.

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