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Vitality Vetcare

Phone: 02 6687 0675
4a Ballina Rd Bangalow
NSW 2479 Australia

Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine

There is no line between conventional and natural therapies.

Our priority is what is going to be of the most benefit to your animal.

Modern Veterinary Hospital

Modern Veterinary Hospital

State of the art surgical, x-ray & hospital facilities.

We aim to create a pleasant relaxed welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine

We use Western and Chinese herbal medicines for a wide range of acute and chronic problems including skin, digestive, nervous and painful conditions.

Vitality Vetcare Homeopathy

Vitality Vetcare Homeopathy

Homeopathy can be a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of acute and long-term problems for a particular animal or group of animals.


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Grabbing a dog by the ear.....

on Thursday, 03 March 2016. Posted in Vitality Vetcare Latest News and Events

Dog ears come in all shape and sizes. Although nice looking, some dog ears are not ideally designed for good air flow. Combine this with a dose of breed specific genetics and a large portion of allergen exposure and/ or lifestyle factors and ear infection has commenced.

Ear infections are unfortunately very common in dogs and can be surprisingly complex in origin.

The team at Vitality Vetcare can do a lot to help your pet with recurrent ear problems from a conventional and integrative perspective. Ask us about how taking a holistic approach that looks at your animal's health as a whole and integrates nutrition, herbal medicine or homeopathy with pharmaceutical drugs can help your animal recover from ear pain and infection and return to good health and wellbeing.

Underlying causes can be varied: Lots of swimming with poorly drying floppy ears can cause a moist environment inside the ear that is a haven for yeast; a grass seed might make it's way down towards the eardrum and cause infection; in cats polyps, benign tumours, in the ear are a well known cause of persistent ear infection; ear mites, though not altogether that common, can cause very itchy ears. Yeasts like to live in warm moist places such as between the toes and in the ears of dogs. The feet and skin need to be treated as well as the ears in many dogs with yeast infections. Most commonly ear and skin infections are an expression of underlying 'allergies' and immune dysfunction.

itchy earMost commonly these are Flea, Food or Atopic (a seasonal reaction to pollen in the air.) allergies. In dogs and cats these allergic reactions express themselves through the skin and ears. Dogs with skin problems frequently have ear problems and vice versa, though this is not always the case. No simple and cheap blood test exist to diagnose an allergy, and finding out what allergies are causing problems frequently requires management trials. For instance we may start the animal on appropriate flea prevention or we may start a special hypo-allergenic food trial. Inappropriate diets especially ones too in carbohydrates can increase the susceptibility of some pets living in a sub-tropical climate like ours, to ear infections.

Usually the bacteria and yeast in the ears are secondary to that primary allergy. The underlying allergy changes the micro-environment of the skin and the ears, making it very pleasant for these organism to grow and cause infection.

Holistic therapies such as Chinese medicine, western herbal medicine or homeopathy would regard chronic allergies and infections as signs of a deeper problem. The metaphor of the seed and soil is well known ie the normal balance of microorganisms in the skin and ear will only become unbalanced and a pathogenic microorganism ('seed') overgrow and develop into an infection when the skin or ear are unhealthy ('soil') and conditions are ideal for the 'seed' to thrive. The roots of the problem are constitutional weaknesses such as genetic predisposition, anatomy and vitality; nutrition including unbalanced diets, excessive carbohydrates or processed food; poor functioning of body systems such as unbalanced skin and gut flora, poor digestion, a leaky gut (increased permeability of gut wall) leading to the absorption of larger molecules across the gut wall, sensitisation of the immune system and increasing the load on the liver; poor circulation impairing cellular nutrition and the elimination of the waste products from the body and exposure to environmental toxins, excessive vaccinations and other medications.

Ear infections start off acute, but if left untreated or if not treated adequately become chronic. This is when treatment really starts to become a challenge. As time goes on, the ear reacts more and more to the chronic infection. The ears become thickened and the ear canal becomes narrowed, eventually the ear drums may rupture, causing a middle ear infection as well as an outer ear infection. All these changes make the ears more resistant to 'simple' treatments like ear drops.  ear anatomy

When treating allergic ears we need to treat the ear infection as well as the primary allergy if we want to have long term success. If this is not done, the ear problems will just come back again and again and become more chronic in the process.

Ear infections are uncomfortable, often just plain right painful. However our pets are tough little cookies and, though in pain, will still eat and not complain. Obvious signs of ear infections are shaking the head frequently, tilting the head with the painful ear down, scratching at the ears causing scratch wounds just below the ears. The ears can be red, look dirty and are smelly. Less obvious signs are head shyness or crankiness and a less playful or dull animal.

Our job as a vet is first to establish what organism is causing the infection. To do this we take a swab of the ear and look under the microscope for mites, bacteria and yeast. We can identify which organism is involved under the microscope, but we can't determine which antibiotic the bacteria is sensitive too. For that we may have to send a swab to the laboratory for culture. If the animal tolerates it we will look inside the ear with an otoscope to check for ruptured eardrums, grass seeds or polyps.

Otoscopic examination can at times be unsuccessful: if the ear is too painful and full of infectious material, if the animal is too anxious, if the animal doesn't want to lie still. Last but not least adequate restraint of the animal is essential for the vets safety and usually done by an experienced vet nurse. Therefore we may sometimes start with home treatment and then do an otopscopic exam on follow up examination, when the ear is less infected.

On recheck we will repeat the swab to check if any organisms are remaining, so we can advise on how long to continue with treatment.

If (repeated) home treatment has not been sufficiently successful we may advise sedation or a general anaesthetic to properly examine the inside of the ear (and thoroughly flush them in the process). If the animal has a grass seed or polyp we can, in most cases, remove it. If the ear drum is ruptured, we may need to change our treatment approach. Sedation may sometimes be enough to examine the inside of the ears, but its unlikely to be strong enough to remove grass seeds or polyps safely. Ears are very sensitive and under sedation an animal can still move its head.

cat ear anatomyEar drops are usually the first treatment approach often in combination with gentle ear cleansers. Antibiotic tablets may sometimes be required if a middle ear infection is suspected. When treating allergic ears we need to treat the ear infection as well as the underlying allergy if we want to have any long term success. If this is not done, the ear problems will just come back again and again and become more chronic in the process.

Follow up after the initial consult is essential. Ears usually start looking better after a few days of treatment, but that doesn't mean the infection or the underlying cause is gone. If the prescribed treatment course is not accurately followed and no recheck is done, lingering infection will cause continuous problems down the track. In addition inadequate application of ear drops can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

In chronic and difficult to manage cases that were unsuccessful with continuous treatment we advise referral to Dr Megan Kearney for a holistic consultation or a veterinary dermatologist.

It's very important for the success of the treatment that you know how to put the ear drops in properly. For this reason we do a thorough demonstration in the consult room. If you struggle at home, just give us a ring and come back in for a practice session. Occasionally we even get pets to come in daily so we can do it. We like to see our patients get better!

Opening Hours

Vitality Vetcare is closed for 6 months whilst Dr Megan is on sabbatical

After hours emergencies please call: see our News page for phone numbers of local independent vet hospitals

Weekends & Public Holidays, North Coast Emergency Vets 0424 054 056


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