Top 5 Facts About Cat and Dog Ear Infections

Top 5 Facts About Cat and Dog Ear Infections
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Did you know that ear infections are the most common reason for vet visits? Learn to recognize, help prevent, and treat ear infections with these five tips.

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. There are plenty effective medications for ear infections such as Tresaderm drops for cats and dogs that can control ear infections quickly. 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.

The Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats

Symptoms of ear infections include hearing loss, inflammation, redness, irritation, discharge, and odor. Scabs may be visible near the earflap as well as hair loss, which can be symptomatic of excessive scratching due to ear infection. Behavioral symptoms of ear infections can be indicators that your dog or cat needs veterinarian attention. Some behavioral symptoms are darting eye movement, pushing affected ear on the furniture or floor, walking in circles, and shaking head, as if trying to get water out of ears. Following detection, ear infections in dogs can be treated using medications such as Mometamax ear drop solution and Baytril solution for dogs based on the vet's prescription.

Physical Symptoms of Ear Infections

If you suspect your dog or cat has an ear infection, there are certainly physical signs you can look for to determine the problem. Hearing loss can be an unfortunate result of ear infections. It can be caused by damage to the eardrum itself, or simply by blockage of the ear canal, due to debris build-up or inflammation. Try snapping your fingers next to the petโ€™s ear to see if there is significant hearing loss. If the loss is minor, it may not be able to be detected by anyone other than a veterinarian.

It is very common for ear infections to be noticed based on inflammation and redness around the ear canal or on the earflaps. Because an animalโ€™s body is designed to respond to infection with inflammation, redness, and irritation, these become visible indicators of ear infections. The immune system sends repair cells to the infected area. They crowd around to fight and flush the infection, causing the area to increase in size (swell,) and more red cells create a redness of the skin.

Infection often produces a milky discharge, which can be very smelly. Bacteria tend to have an odor, and it can get stronger the worse the infection becomes. If the infection is yeast related, the odor can be very sweet smelling, but is strong and obviously not normal. The discharge is a collection of white blood cells that formed to isolate the infection from the healthy skin.

Behavioral Symptoms of Ear Infections

Behavioral symptoms of ear infections may be more noticeable than the physical symptoms, and are usually what first indicates a problem. Nystagmus is unusual darting eye movement, and can be caused by Otitis Interna infections, that affect the balance and coordination of the animal. Some cats and dogs drag the afflicted ear across the furniture or floor, or walk in circles shaking their head. It may seem like the animal is trying to get something out of the ear, as a human might try to remove water.

The sooner you can catch an ear infection, the lower your pet's risk of damage will be. Knowing the symptoms, both physical and behavioral, is the first step in recognizing an ear infection and keeping your pet happy and healthy.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Ear Infection Ear Mites Pruritus (Scratching/Itching)

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