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Otitis Externa in Cats

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Treatment

Treatment for otitis externa may include one or more of the following:

  • Treatment of the primary disease process, the underlying factors that predispose your pet to infection, and the specific infectious agent. Flushing debris from the canal is critical prior to topical treatment. There are several types of ear cleaners. Ear cleansers can be detergent and ceruminolytic (products such as Epi-Otic, Oti-Clens, Routeen, Alo-Cetic) or antimicrobial (Chlorhexiderm, Malaseb). Ear cleaning should be once or twice daily until all debris is removed which is typically 3 to 7 days. Excessive cleaning should be avoided is it can cause ear problems. Cleaners can keep the ear moist and susceptible to infection.

  • Initial management includes cleaning your cat's ear. This can be accomplished by placing solutions in your pet's ear at home or by having them cleaned by your veterinarian. Moderate to severe infections may require sedation and in-hospital flushing. Uncomplicated ear infections respond well to topical ear medications such as Antimax, Otomax, Surolan.

  • Topical therapy usually consists of ear medication that you place in your pet's ear one to two times daily. The specific medicine will depend on the cause of the infection. It is extremely important to follow your veterinarian's directions on getting the medicine in your pet's ear. Improper medication and improper administration is a common cause for treatment failure.

  • Systemic therapy with glucocorticoids, such a prednisone, may be given to decrease pain and inflammation. These are hormones often used as inflammatory agents. It is often used for 10 to 14 days when pain and inflammation is present. Topical glucocorticoids can also be used.

  • Antibiotic therapy may be indicted with severe bacterial infections or ulceration. Antibiotics may be chosen based on cytology and/or bacterial culture.

  • Antifungal therapy is indicated in cases of severe recurrent yeast infections.

  • Regular follow-up visits to your veterinarian are important to ensure that your cat's condition does not worsen.

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