Aug. 27, 2012
Ears are for more than just hearing; they are an important part of your pet’s overall health and can be a source of infection. It’s important to regularly check your pet’s ears for any problems, such as excessive wax, redness or foul odor. Additional signs of an infection can include scratching and head shaking. If these signs are identified, it’s important to treat it as fast as possible, before the problem (and the discomfort or pain) worsens.
In addition, pet owners should know that some breeds and species are more prone to developing ear issues. For example, dogs with floppy ears (such as bloodhounds) and dogs with excessive hair in the ears will trap moisture more than others might, increasing the risk of infection. And while cats are less likely to develop ear problems giving their ears’ standing shape, they are more prone to ear mites. If you notice your cat or kitten develops dark brown ear wax, please have him or her checked by a veterinarian.
Luckily, you can help to prevent ear infections by avoiding getting moisture in the ear. One way to do this would be to place a cotton ball in each ear when bathing your pet, or gently wiping the inside of the ear after it becomes wet.
Once it’s become too late to prevent, medication can help an infection. The veterinarian will put the material found in an infected ear under a microscope and then may provide topical medication if necessary. It is important to follow directions as given, because if not treated correctly, the ear infection could worsen and cause more problems.
Finally, unless your pet has an ongoing issue, routine cleaning is not recommended. Your veterinarian can discuss this with you if you have concerns. While specific situations may require short-term cleansing, it is important to use an ear cleanser specific for your pet and not to use anything else inside the ear.
As always, this is general information about your pet’s health. Your veterinarian is your best source of information on topics related to your animals, and this is information is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice. Should you suspect your dog or cat is experiencing ear problems, you should see your veterinarian right away.