Ear cancer can be a particularly aggressive disease in dogs and prompt diagnosis is important to prevent the spread of cancerous cells into surrounding tissues. Ear cancer can be caused by overexposure to the sun. It starts in the top layer of the skin, which is called the epithelium. Dogs with light coats are at an increased risk of developing this type of cancer, but any dog can be affected. Here's what you need to know about ear cancer:
Being aware of the symptoms of ear cancer can shorten the treatment time for your dog, as it's easier to treat when diagnosed early. Common early signs of this type of cancer include small ulcers found around the edge of the ear and the development of crusts, which may have clear or cloudy discharge seeping from them. Without treatment, the ulcers will begin to bleed and can grow and spread into the ear canal. This will impact on your dog's hearing and leave them susceptible to developing ear infections.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet will make their diagnosis by taking details of your dog's health history and examining their ears. Blood tests will be carried out to check for signs of infection and raised inflammatory markers, and your vet will take a biopsy of the affected ear tissue. The biopsy results determine whether cancerous cells are present, and your dog will then undergo diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan, to establish whether cancerous cells have spread to other parts of their body.
Your vet will recommend a treatment approach based on the degree to which your dog's ear is affected. Cryosurgery is an option when only one or two ulcers are present. This involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze the ulcerated tissue, which cuts off the blood supply to the tissue and kills the cancerous cells. When several ulcers are present, your vet may recommend surgical removal of the ear.
Your dog will still be able to hear after having their ear removed, but they can be more susceptible to ear infections. If cancerous cells have spread to other parts of your dog's body, they will require chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Your dog will have several follow-up appointments with your vet to ensure treatment has been successful, and they will provide information on protecting your dog's skin in the sun.
When cancer spreads it can be fatal, but the outlook is good for dogs that are diagnosed early. So, if your dog has any of the symptoms noted above, schedule an appointment with clinics like Findon Vet Surgery as soon as possible.