The Information Website for the Health & Welfare of the St Bernard

                       Ear Problems that can occur

 

Again, although these conditions are not necessarily 'life threatening', they will cause discomfort to your dog. Veterinary attention should be sought to treat the problem as soon as symptoms appear.

Ear Infections are extremely common in Saints. It is good policy to keep the hair trimmed around the ears in order that air may circulate freely.  Regular checks should be made to avoid serious infections.

Ear Mites are very common and are often associated with foot chewing!  Dogs scratch their inflamed ears & pass on the mite to their feet.  It is worth while when treating ears to treat feet as well!. The life-cycle is about 3 weeks so keep treating for that time or else it is worthless time spent. Vets will supply you with products suitable for this & remind them to give you something for the feet as well!

Wax Build-up Newfoundland’s ears are prone to this & can be seen easily as it is black or brown.  Ear cleaner should be used regularly which will be available at Vets or Canine Dispensaries.

Ear Canker Disease of the ear canal (canker) is one of the commonest diseases of dogs affecting one in five pets at any one time. It is commonly thought that ear problems may be inevitable in some breeds, such as some spaniels. However, this is far from the case and failure to tackle inflamed ear canals will result in chronic pain, inflammation and infection. In time untreatable chronic end-stage ear disease develops.

By far the commonest cause of ear disease is skin allergy. Over 90% of dogs with chronic or recurrent ear disease will have a skin allergy of some sort. Atopy (allergic inhalant dermatitis) is the single most common cause of ear disease in the dog. However, the ear canal commonly becomes hot and inflamed as a result of flea bite dermatitis and in cases of mange. Food allergy is a common cause of ear disease in dogs under one year of age.

Foreign bodies, such as grass seeds, can cause ear disease as can impacted wax or hair. Ear mites are an occasional cause of uncomplicated ear disease in young dogs. Ear mite infestation is not found in chronic ear diseases. Hormonal imbalance as a result of thyroid or adrenal gland problems causes excessive secretion of ear wax. This often causes the ear canals to become under-ventilated and infected.

Elderly dogs and cats often develop polyps and tumours of the ear canal lining. This is a frequent cause of chronic, smelly ear infections. Malignancies of the ear canal are not infrequent occurrences.

Lastly, about 70% of dogs with chronic canker will have extension of infection into the middle ear. Ear drops are ineffective at treating pets with concurrent middle ear infections.

FACTORS MAKING EAR DISEASE WORSE

Dogs with long pendulous ears such as Bassets and Spaniels, with hairy ear canals (Poodles) or narrow ear canals (Shar Pei) often suffer more troublesome ear infections. This can also affect saints as they too have large hairy ears.

Swimming and excess moisture soften the ear canal lining and makes the ear susceptible to excess waxing and yeast infections. Allergic ear disease is commonly complicated by bacterial or yeast infections that can be difficult to treat. With persistent inflammation the ear canal lining becomes thickened and the ear closes up. This further interferes with the normal ventilation and cleaning of the ear canal.

In all cases of ear disease, it is necessary to establish the cause of the problem and to eliminate factors that may perpetuate the disease.

 

MIDDLE EAR DISEASE

70% of dogs with chronic ear disease will have involvement of the middle ear. These cases respond very poorly to medical therapy. However, repeated flushing under general anaesthesia may result in clinical cures. Unfortunately, for the majority of dogs, surgery is required to treat middle ear disease. Surgery drains infection from the middle ear cavity (bulla osteotomy) and removes the diseased ear canal. Although surgery for middle ear disease is technically difficult and does result in total hearing loss on the affected side it does provide a cure for persistent ear disease in all cases

Skin Problems Please see the pages on SKIN as all these problems also affect ears.