View Full Version : Risk of Deafness from Ear Medications

05-31-2010, 01:11 PM
I'm grateful to Natalie and the K9Diabetes forum for posting this alert about common ear medications and their potential to do irreversible harm:

After reading this alarming thread and the associated links, I have a lot of questions.

Does it take any great skill for a vet to see the eardrum and determine whether or not it's perforated/broken? Is this something a specialist should determine?

I'm confused about bacterial -vs- yeast ear infections. Are antibiotics used for bacterial infections, and antifungals used to treat yeast? I read that yeast infections have a strong odor and bacterial infections have no odor. For those of you who have experience with both types of ear infections, do you know whether this is true or not?

I also read that antibiotics given systemically can cause loss of hearing, but I don't know if this is true or not. Is it externally/directly applied antibiotic ointments and drops.... AND shots, pills, liquid antibiotics taken by mouth that put a dog at risk for becoming deaf?

If the eardrum is perforated, and the dog has the kind of infection that requires antibiotics, what are the treatment options?


05-31-2010, 05:27 PM
Rosey, I can answer a few of your questions as my 1st Cushpup, Barkley, suffered from chronic ear infections due to his severe allergies. A GP vet, I would think, should be able to easily visualize the eardrum with an instrument called an otoscope(sp?), unless the ear is so badly infected it's draining. You are correct, antibiotics are used for bacterial infections, anti-fungals for yeast. Yeast is a specific type of fungus. Frequently, a pup may have a mixed infection, both bacteria & yeast, therefore a topical has to be selected that has both an antibiotic & anti-fungal components. IMO, there is a bigger risk of deafness using topical medication than oral, but I think the risk occurs with repeated use of these medications when you have a pup like Barkley who suffered from 3-4 ear infections yearly.


PS- Forgot, ear infections frequently do have a very strong odor, usually when it's yeast. The 2 things I would always do when Barkley was showing signs of an ea infections was what I called the "smell test, & the look test." I would check to see if the skin on the underside of his ear flaps was red or inflamed, along with smelling his ears. If I either saw red or smelled something other than a normal type of ear odor, we were off to the vet.

Harley PoMMom
05-31-2010, 09:10 PM
I believe John had posted about this antibiotic, Gentamycin/Gentamicin, and this one you don't ever want rx'd to your furbaby. Gentamycin/Gentamicin is known to cause deafness in pets and irreversible injuries in humans.

Various drugs including the Aminoglycoside antibiotics can be toxic to the ear structures and cause deafness. Aminoglycoside antibiotics such as Gentamicin, Neomycin, and Kanamycin should not be used except under strict veterinary supervision. High doses and/or lengthy treatments with these antibiotics should be avoided.


Here is another link about it (human oriented):