Royal York Animal Hospital’s goal is to clear up ear infections quickly and definitively to avoid unwanted complications, including infections that become resistant to the medications we prescribe. Antibiotic resistance is a growing issue in human and veterinary medicine, and it’s important that we all do our part to prevent it. Pet owners can help by ensuring the timely and proper treatment of pet ear infections.
1. Don’t wait. Do those ears look red? Do they smell bad? Is your pet scratching, rubbing, or shaking its head? Any of these can be signs of an infection that’s not going to get better on its own. And all that scratching and head shaking can add insult to injury by rupturing a blood vessel and causing a painful aural hematoma (buildup of blood within the ear flap).
2. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Please don’t ‘Dr. Google’ or self medicate your pet into a corner. Home remedies from the internet, family, or friends may seem like a good idea, but they often make matters worse. And please don’t use medication that hasn’t specifically been prescribed for your pet’s current infection), use expired medication (it’s likely lost its ability to fully clear an infection), or use medication intermittently for random periods. All of these practices can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
3. Say yes to pet diagnostics! Every pet ear infection requires that our veterinarians take an ear swab and look at the sample under a microscope so we can identify the type of infection involved and how bad it is. A culture needs to be done for some infections, or we risk using a drug that won’t work and could ultimately make an ear more
difficult to treat. If your pet has chronic or recurrent ear infections, it’s also worthwhile doing blood work to rule out an endocrine disease that could be contributing. Once we’ve done that, we can explore whether allergies are the underlying culprit.
4. Follow your veterinarians orders. Clean the ears and medicate them exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian for the full course of treatment. (For a refresher in pet cleaning & pet medicating, see our video online.) Most pet ear infections need to be treated for a full 2 weeks. If you stop too soon, the remaining bacteria or yeast will regroup and colonize anew. Every time they have that opportunity, they develop mechanisms that make them resistant to the drugs we use. And then we get into real trouble
RYAH’s ear cleaning video www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lt93zNWCyKs
5. Keep your re-check appointment. It’s important to have your pet re-examined at the appointed time even if you think “the ears seem fine now.” They may look fine to the naked eye, but only cytology can determine whether an infection has cleared. If it hasn’t, we need to keep treating until it does or investigate why it hasn’t resolved.
Dr. Iz Jakubowski