Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Frequency and predisposing factors for canine otitis externa in the UK : a primary veterinary care epidemiological view


Otitis externa is a commonly diagnosed disorder in dogs and can carry a high welfare impact on affected animals. This study aimed to report the prevalence and explore the role of breed and aural conformation as predisposing factors for canine otitis externa in the UK. The study used a cohort design of dogs under UK primary veterinary care at clinics participating in the VetCompass Programme during 2016. Risk factor analysis used multivariable logistic regression modelling.


The study included a random sample of 22,333 dogs from an overall population of 905,554 dogs under veterinary care in 2016. The one-year period prevalence of otitis externa was 7.30% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 6.97 to 7.65). Breed and ear carriage were the highest ranked risk factors. Compared with crossbred dogs, sixteen breed types showed increased odds, including: Basset Hound (odds ratio [OR] 5.87), Chinese Shar Pei (OR 3.44), Labradoodle (OR 2.95), Beagle (OR 2.54) and Golden Retriever (OR 2.23). Four breeds showed protection (i.e. reduced odds) of otitis externa: Chihuahua (OR 0.20), Border Collie (OR 0.34), Yorkshire Terrier (OR 0.49) and Jack Russell Terrier (OR 0.52). Designer breed types overall had 1.63 times the odds (95% CI 1.31 to 2.03) compared with crossbred dogs. Compared with breeds with erect ear carriage, breeds with pendulous ear carriage had 1.76 times the odds (95% CI 1.48 to 2.10) and breeds with V-shaped drop ear carriage had 1.84 times the odds (95% CI 1.53 to 2.21) of otitis externa.


Breed itself and breed-associated ear carriage conformation are important predisposing factors for canine otitis externa. Greater awareness of these associations for both predisposed and protected breeds could support veterinary practitioners to promote cautious and low-harm approaches in their clinical advice on preventive care for otitis externa, especially in predisposed breeds.


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