What a digital microscope can tell us

I thought it would be good to share a few recent picture taken from our special digital microscope with you.  These pictures are taken of slides made from swabs of various ear infections.  We take the swabs and gently roll the collected material onto microscope slides. We then stain them in order to look at the different types of microorganisms that we find in the ear canals we treat. These consist of bacteria, yeasts or a combination of the two.  Occasionally, we find parasites such as ear mites or Demodex.  It is really important to know what organisms are involved, especially when the ear problem keeps coming back.  It helps inform our treatment plan.


The rod shaped bacteria that you can see in this slide are frequently resistant to  many antibiotics.  This makes them harder to clear up.  We often need to culture these  as well.  We can do that from one of the swabs we have taken. These swabs are easy to do and are not painful to the pet as long as handled carefully.

………or maybe a yeast infection?

The swab from a different ear show some peanut shaped organisms in this next picture.  These are yeasts known as Malassezia.  The round ones are cocci; another type of bacteria.  Knowing what we are dealing with is really helpful in providing accurate treatment.

Or even both?

With ear infections that keep coming back, it is important to find the driving force behind their cause.  We use the microscope to look for an active infection.  But then we also look to see if that infection is being caused by another factor.  Things like allergies or a hormonal problem for example.  We want to know if there is a way of, not simply treating the ear problems, but trying to stop them recurring.  Ear ache is often very irritating and can also very painful. If your pet keeps getting ear problems then maybe it is time to investigate further and our Skin Vet will be happy to help you and your pet.