INFLAMMATION of the ear canal is one of the most common clinical problems encountered in small animal practice. There are many causes - the ear canal is lined by skin so that virtually any dermatopathy can initiate otitis externa. Once the ear canal becomes inflamed and obstructed by debris, and self-trauma starts to play a part in perpetuating the problem, diagnosis of the cause frequently becomes difficult and frustrating. This article, the first of three on otitis externa, highlights some causes and aims to lay out an easy approach to its investigation. The second article, which will be published in the next issue, will consider medical therapy and the third article, surgery.
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