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Combating horse ear problems

ArticleHow To - HealthThursday 14 January 2010
A horse’s ear is one of the most sensitive areas of the equine body. Horse ear infections can be fairly common and also very painful, so it’s important to take the appropriate measures to curb the problem or the horse could suffer from coordination problems and even deafness.
Horse ear problems and how to combat them
  • Horse ear infections can flair up for any number of reasons. Common causes include the presence of parasites, weaknesses exposed by pre-existing wounds, vestibular illness and irregular objects becoming lodged in the ear drum, inflaming the ear. Fungal spores are another likely cause.
  • Signs that a horse ear infection may be harming your horse include irrational shaking of the head, a reluctance to accept contact with the ear, an unusually high amount of visible ear wax and excessive swelling around the infected area.
  • If the horse is in a lot of discomfort because of the problem, call a vet and they will be able to sedate the animal before carrying out a thorough inspection of the part of the ear causing the most pain.
  • The type of ear infection can differ, but the ear ailments that most commonly infect the animal include otitis media and externa, dermatitis and infection of the pinna. A detailed veterinary examination will help distinguish the probable cause.
  • In all likelihood, the vet will prescribe the appropriate course of treatment and antibodies needed, but to help heal the problem quickly, you should clean the ear flap gently with a sponge or cloth until the swelling begins to fade.
  • If you have a large herd, keep checking the other horses to make sure the problem is not widespread. If multiple cases arise, it may be worth cleaning all stable and bedding areas thoroughly to minimise the risk of the infection spreading. Horse infections can in extreme cases prove lethal, so it’s best to carry out as many precautionary measures as possible.
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