Ear Conditions

Let’s check out those ears.

It may be amusing when your pet pretends not to hear your instructions, but a genuine ear condition is no laughing matter. Infections, tumors, and other problems can lead to severe discomfort, ear damage, deafness, or even life-threatening crises. That’s when it’s good to know that our Santa Barbara veterinarian at The Goodland Pet Hospital is here to provide soothing, healing pet ear care services.

Common Threats to Animals’ Ears

Animals’ ears can come in many different shapes, sizes and configurations, from the erect “bat ears” commonly seen in French Bulldogs and the “buttoned-down” look of Scottish Fold cats to the long, floppy ears of Basset Hounds. These various shapes can often make the ears vulnerable to disease threats. Many of these diseases take hold in the outer ear. Infections in this area are called otitis externa, and they may be caused by the presence of bacteria, dirt, foreign objects, yeast, tumors and (especially in cats) ear mites. Otitis externa generally produces visible symptoms such as:

  • Dermatitis (skin redness, itching, and irritation)
  • Hair loss on the ear
  • Swelling of the ear flap
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Obvious signs of distress such as head tilting and pawing at the infected ear

If an external ear infection gets out of control, it may damage the eardrum, destroying your pet’s hearing and causing bony buildup in the ear canal. The infection can also migrate to the delicate structures of the inner ear, a condition known as otitis interna. Infection of the vestibular system can cause your pet to become dizzy and disoriented, while neurological damage can even lead to a drooping eye or facial paralysis.

Ear infections aren’t the only concern your pet may face. Tumors may occur in any part of the ear, including malignant skin cancer and cancerous growths in the ear canal.

Dermatology and Other Treatment Options

Bring your pet to our clinic for a prompt, accurate diagnosis of his ear condition. Dr. Kelly can administer pet ear care options such as gentle cleansing to remove ear mites, debris, and other irritants, along with topical antibiotics, anti-fungal drugs or other dermatology treatments. (Regular home cleaning of your pet’s ears can then help keep ear mites at bay.) We can also perform surgical procedures as needed to excise tumors for biopsy or remove calcium buildup inside the ear canals. Surgery may also be prescribed to help drain fluid that is causing pain and pressure inside the ear.

Ear infections are a concern, too.

Ear infections in pets are more common than you might realize, afflicting 1 out of every 5 dogs and 1 out of every 15 cats seen in veterinary clinics. These painful diseases can be caused by a variety of pests, parasites, and microscopic intruders — and if left untreated, they can lead to ruptured eardrums and deafness. If your pet is showing signs of an ear infection, bring them to The Goodland Pet Hospital for prompt diagnosis and effective treatment.

Types, Causes, and Symptoms of Ear Infections

Ear infections, or otisis, in animals can occur in the outer ear canal (otitis external), the middle ear (otitis media), or even the inner ear (otitis interna). Many cases of otitis external can spread to the middle ear if they’re not treated promptly and effectively. Common causes of these infections include:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Parasites, most notably ear mites
  • Yeast overgrowth
  • Water in the ear
  • Allergens, dirt, wax, or foreign bodies in the ear
  • Immune system problems that increase the risk of infection in general
  • Thick hair, tumors, or other growths that can clog the ears

A pet with an ear infection may shake his head, hold his head at an angle scratch or rub the affected ear, exhibit ear odor/discharge, or display obvious pain symptoms. Your pet may also seem to be having balance or hearing problems. Severe otitis internal can cause nausea and vomiting.

Treatment From Our Santa Barbara Veterinary Team

Our Santa Barbara veterinary team can discover the cause of your pet’s suffering and provide the care he needs. Ear pain, discharge, and other symptoms may be due to conditions other than infections, so we may analyze a sample of any discharge or other debris in your pet’s ear to identify yeast, bacteria, mites allergens, or other irritants. A careful cleansing of the ear is a necessary first step for ridding the ear of foreign substances and parasites. Antibiotics usually do a good job of clearing up bacterial infections, while anti-fungal medications can nullify yeast. Corticosteroids may be administered to reduce acute pain and swelling. Severe inner ear infections may require surgical drainage and treatment for nausea or dehydration.

Once your pet’s ears are well, we want to keep them well. Our team can prescribe pest preventatives that keep mites at bay, along with home care practices and regular checkups to keep those ears clean and healthy.

Welcome to The Goodland Pet Hospital!

We're open five days a week to serve the pets of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Ventura, Carpinteria, and surrounding areas.

For emergencies, please call ahead so we may be prepared for your arrival.


Mon - Thurs: 8 am – 5:30 pm
Fri: 8 am – 5 pm
Weekends: Closed

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7126 Hollister Ave
Goleta, CA 93117
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