Ear problems in pets are not uncommon. When an ear infection or irritation isn’t recovering as expected, though, sometimes something more is going on.
One potential reason for a stubborn ear issue is a growth in the ear. Ear polyps in pets, especially cats, can be to blame for recurrent or resistant ear issues.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about this potential problem.
All About Ear Polyps in Pets
A polyp is a type of benign tumor. While they are not usually anything serious, these abnormal growths can certainly still stir up trouble due to their location. When a polyp grows in a pet’s ear canal, it obstructs the normal anatomy and function of the ear, leading to irritation and infection.
When an ear polyp occurs, it typically arises from the lining of the ear canal. Usually, these growths are attached by a stalk and can grow quite large. Ear polyps in pets are commonly diagnosed, especially in cats and dogs who have issues with chronic ear infections.
Signs that a pet may have an ear polyp include:
- Scratching at the ear
- Shaking the head
- Nasal discharge
- Trouble swallowing (if the growth extends into the back of the throat)
- A head tilt
- Loss of balance
- Nystagmus (involuntary back and forth movement of the eyes)
Typically, an ear polyp can be diagnosed on a routine otoscopic examination, although sometimes its location or the pet’s intolerance of the exam requires sedation for a polyp to be identified. In some instances, advanced imaging, such as a CT or MRI, may be needed.
Resolving the Problem
In order to resolve the symptoms associated with ear polyps in pets, the polyp must be removed. This is done surgically by one of two methods:
Traction technique – If the polyp can be visualized easily in the ear canal or the back of the throat, the surgeon may have some luck simply plucking it out. This is a less invasive technique, but polyps that are plucked are very likely to regrow, as abnormal tissue often will be left behind.
Ventral bulla osteotomy – This procedure involves making a window into the bony portion of the skull that encases the inner ear. This allows the surgeon to view the ear canal and have enough access to remove all of the abnormal tissue.
Most pets do quite well after surgery. Because there are several nerves in the affected area, some animals may have difficulty blinking or other issues, especially in the first week or so after the procedure.
Typically, histopathology (biopsy) of the tissue is also performed, in order to be sure that the growth is a benign one and that no further action needs to be taken.
Ear polyps in pets are a frustrating issue, but at Carriage Hills Animal Hospital, we are more than happy to help you should your pet struggle with an ear polyp or other condition of the ear.
The earlier we can diagnose and treat him or her, the better the results for everyone, so please let us know if you are seeing signs of ear problems in your pet.