A review of otitis externa in dogs and cats is presented. Aetiology, includes primary causes: ectoparasitoses, allergic diseases, endocrine disorders, pyodermas, trauma and irritation, contact dermatitis, auto-immune skin diseases, drug eruption, keratoseborrhoeic skin disease, tumours and pseudoneoplastic lesions, as well as secondary causes: bacteria and yeasts. Clinical aspects are variable but a practical classification distinguishes two forms: erythematoceruminous otitis externa and suppurative otitis externa. Diagnosis is made in five steps which are clinical examination, direct examination of cerumen (erythematoceruminous otitis externa) or bacterial culture and sensitivity testing (suppurative otitis externa), direct impression smears, cleaning and otoscopy, and diagnosis of underlying skin disease. Medical therapy includes cleaning of the external ear canal and local therapy (acaricides, antifungal agents, antibiotics, corticosteroids, other topical agents, the appropriate selection of an optic preparation being essential). Treatment of underlying skin disease is always necessary. Otitis externa is in fact a dermatological disease complex (like pododermatitis). Although local secondary infections (bacterial and fungal) must be managed in every case, there are grounds for including otitis externa in a larger frame.