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Ear Problems

15 August 2011 No Comment

Ear Problems
Dr. Jennifer MacLeay is an author and lecturer who is currently based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. MacLeay was born and grew up in Northern New Jersey. Her interest in horses began early and she participated in hunt seat equitation and eventing for many years. Dr. MacLeay has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Hampshire and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Ohio State University.
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Question
Hi, My name is Kathy. My four- year-old quarter horse gelding has a real problem with his right ear. When I bought him a year ago he had white scars in his ears due to ear mites. I put Swat in his ears whenever I can to help keep them out of there. I haven’t been able to touch his right ear for 2 weeks now. He gets very irritated when I try, it’s even gotten so bad that when I go to bridle him I have to unbuckle the bridle to get it on him. What do you suggest doing for this problem?
Thanks, Kathy

Answer
Hi Kathy, Your horse may simply be ear shy and developed an aversion to having his ears touched because of his previous medical problem. Back then it hurt to have people handle his ears and now he associates having his ears touched with pain. Some simple behavior modification of treats and going slow might work.
However, I have a feeling your problem is not that and that you are dealing with a new problem. The product you mention is quite safe but whenever you put anything in your horses ears (even water) it may get down inside the ear canal and be very irritating and may set the stage for an ear infection. A horse’s ear canal is very vertical and hard to clean. Horses can shake their head to try to get water, bugs or anything else out of their ear but that’s all they can do. Have your veterinarian come out and sedate your gelding and have a look down inside the ear to make sure he doesn’t have an infection.

Best of luck,
Jennifer MacLeay, DVM, Ph.D.
Diplomate ACVIM

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