What is otitis?

Otitis is an extremely common condition in cats and dogs that causes inflammation in the ear. There are three types of the condition: otitis externa (chronic inflammation of the external ear canal), otitis media (infection of the middle ear) and otitis interna (swelling of the inner ear).

While otitis can be found in any breed of dog or cat, it tends to be more common in long-haired breeds like spaniels. It’s also common in breeds with hairy external ear canals, like poodles. Other things that can trigger the condition include allergies, parasites and the environment.

What are the symptoms of otitis in dogs and cats?

Symptoms will depend on the type of otitis your pet is suffering from, as well as the severity of it.

Symptoms of otitis externa and otitis media include:

  • Head shaking
  • A bad odour from the ear
  • Indications of being in pain
  • Brown, yellow or black discharge from the ear
  • Red or inflamed underside of the ear

When the infection spreads to the inner ear, symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Head tilting
  • Appearing uncoordinated
  • Deafness
  • A bulging ear drum

What’s the treatment?

Treatment for otitis in dogs and cats depends on which part of the ear is infected, and your specialist will be able to advise the best course of action. Treatment for the external ear can usually be done as part of outpatient care. This will include a thorough cleansing of the ear, followed by ear drops or tablets prescribed by your vet.

For internal infections, a course of antibiotics may be required
over several weeks.

In order to prevent the likelihood of further infections, be sure to regularly clean your pet’s ears, perhaps once a week.


vet writing on whiteboard


What’s the prognosis?

Most dogs and cats will recover (at home) from otitis within a few weeks, although more severe cases can take longer. If you’re concerned about your pet’s recovery, speak to one of our team and we’ll be able
to offer advice.