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UC Davis Dermatologists Successfully Treat Vizsla’s Ear Infection

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The VMTH’s Dermatology Service cleared a fungal infection in Rosie’s ear caused by a foxtail.

VMTH "Case of the Month" – March 2014

Being a Vizsla, 4-year-old Rosie is a very active dog that enjoys the outdoors. More than a year ago, she got a foxtail—a barley-type wild grass—caught in her ear. Covered with microscopic projections, foxtails can pose severe health risks to dogs, as they migrate into tissue causing allergic-like reactions and infections. The foxtail in Rosie’s ear had to be removed under anesthesia, and what followed required her to be brought to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

After the foxtail removal, Rosie’s ear continued to have a recurrence of a dark waxy build-up, with mild inflammation and historical Malassezia, a fungus naturally found on the skin of many animals. Rosie’s owner brought her to the VMTH’s Dermatology Service for further evaluation. A CT scan showed a clear middle ear so VMTH dermatologists removed the accumulated debris with flushing and suction using a video-otoscope.

Video-otoscope technology allows clinicians to see into an ear canal using a state-of-the-art otoscope with a fiber optic camera system that projects images onto a large screen, such as a computer monitor. The scope helped the dermatologists more precisely remove the debris in Rosie’s ear. Samples of the debris removed with the video-otoscope were examined under the microscope and revealed evidence of a fungal infection.

Fungal and bacterial cultures of the debris from Rosie’s ear confirmed that the ear was infected by a fungus known as Aspergillus niger, which can lead to serious health issues if not treated properly. Rosie was placed on antifungal medication, and the clinicians discussed long-term antifungal treatment options with her owner, as those would take several months to clear Rosie’s condition.

“We tried oral and topical medications which resulted in minor improvements over two months,” said Dr. Catherine Outerbridge, DVM, DACVIM, DACVD, Associate Professor of Clinical Dermatology at UC Davis. “We then decided to have Rosie come in frequently to be able to use the video-otoscope to more effectively flush her ear and instill specially compounded antifungal medications into that ear.”

Over the course of about six months, in addition to an oral and topical medication regimen done at home, VMTH dermatologists performed multiple flushes of Rosie’s ear using the video-otoscope, which required Rosie to be sedated.

Each procedure showed a marked improvement with lessening of the fungal build-up. Finally, almost a year after her initial encounter with the foxtail, Rosie’s ear was clear of the fungus, and she was back to her old self, enjoying the outdoors with another Vizsla, her best friend Lily.

To follow Rosie and Lily’s adventures, please visit


About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 45,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer