Friday, 15 July 2016

All About ... Otitis Externa

What is it

Otitis Externa is infection of the ear canal which causes pain and swelling.  If left untreated the infection can move deeper into the middle ear. The inflammation will worsen and may lead to the eardrum rupturing and partial deafness.  However, it is uncommon in horses.

  • Rubbing of the ears 
  • Shaking head 
  • Swelling and redness in the ear 
  • Sensitive if ear touched 
  • Affected ear may droop 
  • Head may tilt to painful side 
  • May be odour or discharge

  • Foreign body eg: grass seed 
  • Fly bites or ticks 
  • Infection which may be fungal or bacterial 
  • Trauma 
  • Disease


The vet will be able to investigate more carefully which may involve sedating the horse to keep him calm and allow the examination.


Remove the foreign object if possible.  However, if the horse is distressed it is likely to be better to call the vet as sedation may be required.  The ear should be cleaned thoroughly and antibiotic cream and/or powders may be prescribed.  


Controlling flies and midges by using fly fringes with ear protection.  Don't trim or clip the hair out of your horses ears, it is there for a reason!  Checking a horse’s ears regularly for any foreign objects or ticks.

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Until next time!

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