Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Central TX

2207 Lake Austin Boulevard
Austin, TX 78703


Chronic Ear Disease

Otitis, which is inflammation and/or infection of the ear, is one of the most common dermatological issues of pets. It is typically a sign of a bigger problem which must be diagnosed and treated along with the otitis. Ear disease is often related to allergies, both environmental and food, and can also be associated with growths or polyps in the ear, hormonal diseases, parasites, autoimmune diseases, and other underlying primary causes. If your pet's ear infections are chronic and difficult to resolve, it is likely because the underlying cause has not been identified.

Ear infections are very painful and should be addressed immediately. An infection of the ear may manifest as a foul odor and inflamed/swollen ear canal, with or without a discharge. You may notice your pet shaking their head and scratching or rubbing their ears. Severe cases of otitis can lead to partial deafness and neurological problems. In serious cases, the ceruinous glands lining the ear canal will secrete extra wax and debris causing severe inflammation leading to permanent skin thickening, mineralization, and narrowing of the ear canals. Once this occurs, the only viable treatment is surgery to remove part or all of the ear canal.

Early detection and proper treatment is necessary to stop progression of ear disease. Proper otic cytology will determine the type of infection. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common rod bacteria found, while Staphylococcis pseudintermedius is the most common coccoid bacteria associated with ear infections. Malassezia (yeast) species are also often present. Based on his microscopic evaluation and case history, Dr. Nichols will choose the best, most effective treatment protocol. A simple ear flush to remove debris and infectious material from the ear may be performed by our technicians to ready the ear for topical treatments. Sometimes a deep ear flush under sedation may be needed as a diagnostic tool and part of the treatment plan. Often a course of steroids is first required in order to reduce swelling of the ear canal. If infection has progressed to the middle ear, Dr. Nichols can perform a myringotomy, which is a surgical procedure in which he creates a hole in the tympanic membrane in order to examine, flush, relieve pressure, and collect fluid for bacterial culture. Specialized laboratory analysis of the collected fluid will direct the most effective approach to treatment.

A skilled understanding of the many factors contributing to otitis and detailed analysis of all the causes is crucial. Dr. Nichols' focus on identifying and treating the underlying factors is the key to preventing chronic and recurrent infections.

“We so appreciate Dr. Nichols' time and attention to Oliver's ears. 

His treatments have given Oliver a better quality of life.

He is a happy pup and it is because of Dr. Nichols being so awesome!” - Matt B.