Otitis Externa: Happy Pets, Happy Owners


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Why efficacy and client satisfaction are often tied together with treating otitis externa. 

When dogs are presented to a veterinary hospital with otitis externa, veterinarians are on the clock to deliver relief – not just to the pet but to the owner as well. Indeed, it is critical to control the inflammation rapidly, both to relieve the discomfort for that dog and related owner anxiety and to manage the disease, said Cristiano von Simson, director of field technical services, Virbac.

Otitis externa is predominantly an inflammatory disease, many times starting from an underlying predisposing issue like allergies, ear conformation (droopy ears that retain moisture), getting ears wet by swimming often, etc. It’s also one of the leading reasons for veterinary visits. Most pet insurance companies report that ear issues are one of the top two complaints for dog visits to veterinary hospitals (allergies being the other), Dr. von Simson said. “The signs of otitis externa drive owners to frustration, and they are searching for a quick and simple solution.”

When reviewing the literature to find how quickly the ear treatment products work, Dr. von Simson said there wasn’t a lot of good data on how they perform in the first one to seven days. Almost no research has been published during this period of time. Most studies evaluate product efficacy at 14 to 28 or 30 days.

Virbac decided to conduct a survey of its own. The TAKE 5 Survey asked owners to track the otitis signs utilizing an online tool, and the manufacturer evaluated the performance of its EASOTIC product 24 hours after the first dose, at the 5th and last day of treatment, and then at 14-28 days after the first dose. The results were positive in the efficacy of EASOTIC and its ability to reduce inflammation quickly. Dr. von Simson said many pet owners reported “dramatically” reduced signs within 24 hours, and by the fifth day after starting treatment, the signs were reduced by up to 89%. “This fast action translates into happier dogs and owners.”

Happy owners

The last part is critical to the veterinary-client relationship. Despite otitis externa being such a frequent problem, there are still many frustrations due to treatments that aren’t achieving the goal of rapidly improving the pet’s quality of life and reducing owner anxiety, Dr. von Simson said. Pet owners report that they are very frustrated with treatments that are difficult to administer (when they need to administer a certain number of drops per year once or twice a day for two weeks), or that don’t provide fast relief.

During the TAKE 5 survey, pet owners also reported that the product was very easy to use. EASOTIC’s delivery device and dosing schedule, with just one squirt per ear once a day for just five days, made it easy for the pet owner, Dr. von Simson said. The fact that doctors apply the first dose at the hospital, having the product working during the first 24 hours to reduce the discomfort of that affected ear dramatically, allows the owner to handle that pet and administer the subsequent doses in a much less traumatic way.

“Another reason owners get frustrated with otitis externa is the fact that dogs tend to have several episodes per year,” Dr. von Simson said. Owners think that the veterinarians are failing to fully resolve the problem, reporting that ‘it got better for a while, but now it is back again.’” Yet this is usually not a case of the same episode of otitis recurring but a new episode triggered by the same underlying cause (allergy, ear conformation, frequently getting ears wet, etc.).

This issue can be minimized by making sure owners show up for the recheck visit after initial treatment when the veterinarian can discuss with them how this episode was resolved, explain the underlying cause or predisposing factors that put this patient at risk for repeated episodes of otitis, and then agree on a plan to manage these. Allergy therapy and periodic ear cleaning at home are some useful tools. Dr. von Simson said recommending weekly or biweekly ear cleaning can be very beneficial for these dogs prone to otitis.

The distributor rep’s role

Distributor reps, too, can provide some assistance by asking their veterinary clinics questions to better meet their needs related to treating otitis externa. Dr. von Simson provided the following:

  • How rapidly does your No. 1 product for the treatment of otitis externa relieve the signs that are bothering the dog and the pet owner?
  • How easy is it to apply the treatment you are recommending in a dog with tender ears due to the inflammatory changes related to otitis externa?
  • Are you familiar with the recent information on EASOTIC action from the TAKE 5 survey?
  • Would you consider trying a product that delivers a larger dose of a unique and potent anti-inflammatory ingredient to reduce signs of otitis externa quickly?
  • What is the plan you recommend to pet owners for maintaining healthy ears on dogs prone to otitis externa?


Proper cleaning

Virbac provides a video featuring Dr. Christina Restrepo to educate pet owners on how to clean their dog ears at home: us.virbac.com/products/ear-health/epiotic-advanced-ear-cleanser.


Photo credit: istockphoto.com/inside-studio