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How to Deal with Common Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats

How to Deal with Common Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats

How do you know when your dog has an ear infection?

If your pet cat or dog is often scratching their ears, constantly shaking their head, tilting their head to the side, smelly ears, significant amount of secretions in the ears, decreased energy, red or warm ears, or acting as if their ears are uncomfortable, it might mean they have an ear infection.  A trip to the vet will help determine the cause and proper treatment.   Need a Pet Taxi? PetCloud Drivers can take unaccompanied Pets to any pre-booked Vet Appointments. Simply post a job. 

What causes Pet Ear Infections?

There are several causes of ear discomfort and itchiness, and each has different medication to treat it. Your vet will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment. Once the infection is cured, there are some things you can do to prevent future infections and further damage to your pet’s ears.

Infections in cat and dog ears are usually caused by bacteria, yeast or ear mites. Less commonly, a build-up of wax, matted hair, dirt or debris can block the ear canal and keep it from draining properly. Infections can be in the internal or external ear canal. The inner ear infections in animals are more commonly caused by an infection spreading from the external part of the ear canal, rather than from a head cold as with humans. The shape of human ears has the result that outer ear infections in humans are much less common than in dogs and cats.

Your vet will inspect matter removed from your pet’s ear under a microscope to confirm their diagnosis. Ear mites often cause a build-up of dark matter that looks like coffee grounds in ear canal, while other infections may cause a lighter-colored discharge. All types of infection are generally accompanied by irritation and discomfort. There may also be an unpleasant odor.

After making their diagnosis, the vet will start by thoroughly cleaning your pet’s ears. Then your Vet will apply medication made to treat the specific type of infection, and send you home with more medication and instructions for its use.

How can I treat my dogs ear infection at home?

Matching an accurate diagnosis with appropriate treatment is something a vet is qualified to do, which is why home remedies are not advised for ear infections. Depending on the severity of the infection, it may take several weeks to be completely cured.

Different causes require different medication and also different follow-up actions:

  • Ear mites are highly contagious. If one of your pets has ear mites, you should get all of your pets treated just in case. Also consider using a flea control product to help keep the mites from spreading to other parts of the body. Use a pet-safe insecticide on animal bedding and other places where the animal spends time.
  • Damage to the ear can result when your pet scratches irritated skin, and it can lead to bacterial infections and even hearing loss if left untreated.
  • Yeast infections and bacterial infections are often caused by the moist environment inside the ears, especially dog ears that flop over. Keeping the ears dry is important, and an acidic ear cleaning product will help prevent a yeast infection from taking hold. This is especially important if your dog likes to swim.

Why does my dog keep getting ear infections?

There are several steps you can take to prevent further outbreaks:

  • Weekly cleaning of ears not only keeps ears clean and less likely to get infected, but gives the owner a chance to notice a problem before it becomes severe. The longer the pet has the infection before treatment is begun, the longer it will take to cure it, and more damage can occur to the ear as well. Ask your vet to recommend a pet ear cleaning product and to show you the proper way to clean your pet’s ears, so you are not doing more harm by injuring tender tissue or pushing wax and debris further into the ear canal.
  • Proper grooming for pets that have long hair near and on their ears is also important. If your dog isn’t a regular visitor to a doggie barber, buy a pet grooming kit and clip hair close to the base of his ears to prevent its becoming matted.
  • Investigate your boarding kennel to be sure they take measures to control the spread of mites to their clients.

If your pet continues to have ear infections after you’ve taken all of these preventative steps, an underlying problem like allergies or a thyroid problem could be causing it. Your vet can run further tests to identify an underlying cause and recommend treatment.


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