Ear Flap (Pinna) Problems in Dogs

The ear flap, or pinna, is a sheet of cartilage covered on both sides by a layer of skin and hair. The pinna is often involved in diseases as part of a generalized process, especially in the case of allergic and autoimmune skin diseases.

Bites and Lacerations

It is not uncommon for the pinna to be injured during fights with other animals.

Treatment: Control bleeding and treat the wound as described in Wounds. Apply a topical antibiotic ointment such as triple antibiotic or Neosporin. Leave the ear uncovered, unless your dog shakes her head and reopens the wound so that bleeding restarts; in that case, you may need to bandage the ear to the head. Wounds caused by animal bites are often complicated by infection and must be watched carefully.

Large lacerations, and those involving the edges of the ears or the ear cartilage, should receive prompt veterinary attention. Surgical repair is necessary to prevent scarring and deformity. Your veterinarian may decide to bandage the ear to the head to keep it still for faster healing.

Allergic Otitis (Ear Allergy)

Dogs with canine atopy and food hypersensitivity dermatitis are predisposed to develop inflamed ears. In fact, ear involvement may be the only indication of an allergy. In dogs with ear allergies, an itch-scratch-itch cycle develops, resulting in excoriations, hair loss, scabs, and crusts about the ears. The ear canals are filled with a brown wax or, alternately, may appear very red, inflamed, and moist.

An allergic contact dermatitis can develop in ear canals that have been medicated with an ear preparation. The antibiotic neomycin is a frequent cause of this problem.

Treatment: Any underlying allergic skin disease must be treated to eliminate the ear symptoms. Treatment for itching involves the use of antihistamines and topical and oral corticosteroids. Discontinue any ear preparation that may be allergenic. An allergic otitis is often complicated by a bacterial or yeast infection that must also be treated.