Otitis interna

From Dog

Otitis interna (labyrinthitis) is a rare inflammatory disease of the semicircular canals of the dog inner ear, commonly caused by bacterial, fungal or yeast infections[2][3].

A congenital predisposition to lymphocytic labyrinthitis has been described in the Doberman breed[4].

Affected dogs often present with inner ear disease characterized by acute unilateral deafness, head tilting to affected side, and in severe cases, vestibular disease[5] characterized by nystagmus, circling, ataxia and seizures. Rare cases of Horner's syndrome have also been reported[6].

Meningitis[7], periocular and retrobulbar abscess have also been reported as rare sequelae[8].

Diagnosis can be more difficult that with otitis externa or otitis media and usually requires CT or MRI imaging to confirm.

Treatment usually focuses on surgical exploration and ventral bulla osteotomy if indicated, followed by 1 - 3 months of antibiotic therapy[9]. The choice of surgical procedure(s) should be based on the severity of the condition, duration of clinical signs, response to previous surgery, and the familiarity of the surgeon with the different approaches and techniques[10].


  1. Hills vet
  2. Spangler EA & Dewey CW (2000) Meningoencephalitis secondary to bacterial otitis media/interna in a dog. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 36(3):239-243
  3. McKeever PJ & Torres SM (1997) Ear disease and its management. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 27(6):1523-1536
  4. Forbes S & Cook JR (1991) Congenital peripheral vestibular disease attributed to lymphocytic labyrinthitis in two related litters of Doberman pinscher pups. J Am Vet Med Assoc 198(3):447-449
  5. Garosi LS et al (2001) Results of magnetic resonance imaging in dogs with vestibular disorders: 85 cases (1996-1999). J Am Vet Med Assoc 218(3):385-391
  6. Kern TJ et al (1989) Horner's syndrome in dogs and cats: 100 cases (1975-1985). J Am Vet Med Assoc 195(3):369-373
  7. Mellema LM et al (2002) Meningeal enhancement on magnetic resonance imaging in 15 dogs and 3 cats. Vet Radiol Ultrasound 43(1):10-15
  8. Kraijer-Huver IM et al (2009) Peri- and retrobulbar abscess caused by chronic otitis externa, media and interna in a dog. Vet Rec 165(7):209-211
  9. Sturges BK et al (2006) Clinical signs, magnetic resonance imaging features, and outcome after surgical and medical treatment of otogenic intracranial infection in 11 cats and 4 dogs. J Vet Intern Med 20(3):648-656
  10. Boothe HW (1988) Surgical management of otitis media and otitis interna. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 18(4):901-911