Cats and dogs are so prone to ear infections that it is the most common reason people take their pets to the veterinarian. Because there are so many possible causes of ear infections, it is important to pay attention to any new behaviors your pet exhibits, so the veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis, and treat accordingly. It is also important that you not further exacerbate the infection by trying to clear it up without diagnosis. Talk to your veterinarian, and follow exact care instructions to ensure best chance of healing. These five facts may also help guide you in your effort to rid your pet of ear infections.
1. It Might be Mites
When it comes to ear mites, hygiene is extremely important. It is possible to prevent ear infection caused by ear mites as long as you are diligent about keeping those ears clean and free of parasites. Ear mites are mostly visible if you look into the canal. It may look like dirt, so keeping the ears clean can make them more visible. Cleansing liquids or a mixture of water and vinegar can be effective aids in ear hygiene.
2. Inserting Anything Into the Ear Canal, even Q-tips, Can Make Matters Worse
You may not realize, but inserting anything, especially Q-tips, into the ear canal can cause serious damage to your pet's ear. Surprisingly, Q-tips can actually puncture the eardrum, or lodge debris further into the inner ear. While this is true for humans and animals alike, it's even more difficult to tell how far is too far with your pet because you can't feel the Q-tip in your pet's ear as you can in your own.
3. Scratching Can Turn Any Irritation Into Infection
Many causes of ear infections in dogs and cats are irritations that cause the animal to scratch. Often the act of rapidly scratching the ear, mostly the outer flap, can break the skin. If the wound, no matter how mild, is then in contact with infectious bacteria, it can turn ugly. If your dog or cat seems to be actively trying to dig something out of the ear, check around the earflap for abrasion. If there is broken skin visible, make sure to clean the area. If you suspect an ear infection, it is important for your pet to see a veterinarian. Any possible infection on the head area can be serious.
4. Dogs and Cats May Just be Allergic
Sometimes chronic ear infections may be caused by allergies. Often this is diagnosed after antibiotics have failed to help. Notify your veterinarian of any changes to diet or if you notice skin irritation during a specific time of year. This may help narrow the cause down to allergies, and then an allergy test may be the best bet.
5. Any Breed Can be Prone to Ear Infections
Although some breeds are more prone than others, due to floppy outer ears, all breeds are vulnerable. Some people believe docking the ears can help prevent infection. Nonetheless, good hygiene will be your best bet in keeping your pet's ears clean, clear, and infection-free.