Malassezia infection of dog's ears

Author: VioVet
Published: Tuesday 30th April 2013

Our customer asked:

We live in France and out 3 year old Griffon has been under the vet for several weeks now with Malassezia in both ears. He also keeps rubbing his muzzle on the furniture.
The vet anaesthetised him and had a good look, plus took a culture which was analysed at the lab., so we are sure it is this and not anything else.
She has prescribed him with Surolan ear drops, but the infection has been slow to clear up. I wonder if it would be helpful to bathe him with a medicated shampoo every couple of weeks as well?
Our reply:
Malassezia are often found in normal ears and on normal dog skin in small numbers. They generally only cause trouble if they overgrow and are present in very high numbers. This often happens in ears which are anatomically "imperfect" with poor air circulation or other  factors, such as allergic skin disease.  Essentially what is going on in your dog's ears will probably be unaffected by shampooing the rest of your dog's skin. Often it is just the ears which are affected. If your dog is slightly itchy around the muzzle, which might well explain the rubbing, then there might well be a Malassezia overgrowth affecting the lip folds. Do these tend to be moist with saliva? Applying an antiseptic to these might well help. Malaseb would work, but requires a prescription from your vet. Lots of people will use something like Hibiscrub to wash these areas, and that would be safe enough. (Rinse well afterwards. Do not put any in the ears though!)

Personally I would suggest regular cleaning of the ears, with something like CleanAural or Sancerum. This can be done every day initially (ideally an hour or so before using Surolan). When things are getting under control, then reducing to once a week or once a fortnight with the Ear cleaner can help to maintain  healthy ears. I would suggest you talk to your vet about it, but this would be a more usual approach. If it fails to work very well, then possibly you could investigate underlying causes of the Malassezia overgrowth, but again it is best to talk to your vet about that. If the lip folds appear to be affected too, which is not uncommon, then treating these would be indicated. It is unlikely that treating the whole body will be needed.