canine otitis externa

How Does Compounding Help with Canine Otitis Externa?

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What is the key to a healthy, happy pet? One of the keys is cracking down on outer ear infections. But there are some cases where you might want to turn to compounded medications instead of treatments you can buy in your pet store — canine otitis externa is one of them

What is Canine Otitis Externa?

Otitis externa is a common condition that affects the ear of a dog. It is also known as inflammatory ear disease or ear inflammation. The condition can affect any dog age, breed, or mix, but it is more commonly seen in dogs with long ears. It is the third-leading cause of visits to the veterinarian for canines.

There are many causes of otitis externa in dogs, but the most common is allergies. Allergies can cause the ear to become inflamed and itchy, leading to the dog scratching its ear. This can lead to a secondary bacterial or yeast infection of the ear. Other possible causes of otitis externa include foreign bodies in the ear, such as grass seeds; trauma to the ear; tumors; and polyps.

The most common symptom of otitis externa is itching. The dog may also shake its head or hold it to one side. In severe cases, there may be discharge from the ear or even pain. If you suspect your dog has otitis externa, it is crucial to take him to the vet for treatment.

Difference between the canine ear to the human ear

A dog’s ear anatomy differs significantly from a human’s. 

One can reach the human tympanic membrane directly through the ear canal. But the canine ear’s opening leads to a vertical canal that descends, makes a nearly 90-degree curve, and then proceeds horizontally to the tympanic membrane in the shape of an “L.”

This makes the ear more susceptible to infection, as bacteria and other debris can more easily become lodged in the canal. In addition, dogs have more hair in their ear canals than humans, which can further contribute to debris buildup.

Compounding can help treat canine otitis externa by delivering medication directly to the infected area. This is especially beneficial for dogs who have difficult-to-reach or sensitive ear canals. 

How Does Compounding Help with Canine Otitis Externa?

Whatever the cause of the otitis, conventional therapy doctors frequently recommend several droplets in the afflicted ear(s) multiple times a day. This treatment may be challenging for the pet owner because it is difficult to count how many drops there may have been instilled. But there is still another problem.  You must get the medicine into the horizontal portion of the dog’s ear canal.

Also, in traditional medicine, ear infections are typically treated with oral antibiotics, which can have side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting. However, compounded ear medications can be tailored to each individual dog’s needs, making them more effective and less likely to cause side effects. 

Compounding allows you to choose an alternate delivery method for the medication. For instance, if your dog hates taking pills, you could have the medication compounded into a topical gel that can be applied to the ear.

Finally, some dogs are allergic to certain ingredients in over-the-counter ear medications. If this is the case for your dog, compounding allows you to select different ingredients that will not cause an allergic reaction.

Types of Compounded Medicines

One popular type of compounded medication is an ear flush. This solution is used to clean the ear canal and can help remove debris and excess wax. Ear flushes are typically safe for most dogs, but they should not be used if the ear is inflamed or has an open wound.

Another solution involves poloxamer gel. This is a unique base used to compound the medicine. It works well because it’s thermoreversible—when the gel is cold, it is fluid, allowing the main ingredients to reach the tiny crevices in the canine’s ear canal. When the gel is exposed to warmth (such as the canine’s body temperature), it immediately gels, keeping the main ingredients in the ear canal for an extended period of time (usually about a week).

Each compound has its unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to speak with your veterinarian about which option is best for your dog.


Compounded medication for canine otitis externa can help your dog in many ways. By specifically targeting the infection, compounding can help clear up the infection more quickly. In addition, it can provide a more concentrated dose of medication, which may be more effective than over-the-counter options. 

If you are considering compounding for your dog’s otitis externa, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best option for your pet.