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Otitis externa in horses - clinical signs, treatment and prognosis

Last changed: 28 January 2020

Otitis externa is rare in horses and the condition is poorly described in the literature. The objective of this study was to describe clinical signs, treatment regimens and prognosis of otitis externa in eight horses diagnosed with otitis externa during 2011–2018. The methods used were retrospective review of medical records and follow‐up contact with owners.


Common clinical signs seen in affected horses were pruritus, ear discharge and ear droop of affected ears. The most common cytological findings were neutrophils, bacteria and yeast. All horses responded well to treatment; two horses were reported to have recurrent problems.

Conclusion and clinical importance

Otitis externa in horses is a rare and treatable condition. The condition may be present for prolonged periods before owners become aware, compromising the welfare of affected horses. Untreated otitis externa is a suggested cause of otitis media and temporohyoid osteoarthropathy, emphasizing the importance of identifying and treating this condition at an early stage. For this reason, clinicians should include a brief inspection of the pinnae and external ear canal in the clinical examination of horses.

Link to the publication


Odelros, E. , Kendall, A. , Wulcan, S. and Bergvall, K. (2019), Otitis externa in eight horses – clinical signs, treatment and prognosis. Vet Dermatol, 30: 430-e132. doi:10.1111/vde.12763


Anna Kendall
Doctoral student at the Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health; Pathology Unit

Telephone: 018-672356