I’ve been to two talks about ear treatment in the last couple of weeks. At the first a skin expert (ears are basically modified skin) gave an overview of ear cleaning and treatment. One of the problems vets have when prescribing ear drops is that virtually every veterinary ear drop for cats and dogs has multiple ingredients. They all have an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory (usually a steroid), an anti-fungal and they all kill ear mites. So if a dog has only a bacterial infection or only ear mites, we still have to prescribe drops with all the other things in too! In most cases this doesn’t matter and most ear infections have multiple causes (there are over 20 recognised causes of ear disease – otitis – including allergies, parasites, bacteria, fungi, shape of ear etc).
One of the ways we can be more specific in treating ear problems is how we go about cleaning them. There are about 13 veterinary ear cleaners and they are all different in acidity, viscosity, wax dissolving ability etc. Any antibiotic put into an ear works best when the ear is clean, they struggle to work through a lot of wax and if we can clean the ear with a product that specifically damages the main cause of the ear problem then this helps too.
Also, some ear cleaners are so acidic that they stop any ear drop medicine working if they are used together! Ear cleaners don’t have to go through clinical testing like a drug and there is little evidence as to how well they work, in humans many of the wax removers aren’t actually much better at removing ear wax than just using water!
More on ears and what we are doing at Withy Grove next week……..