Proper Ear Care Can Be The Key to Preventing Ear Infections.
Inflammation of the outer ear canal in dogs and cats can be one of the more frequent reasons that a pet is brought into the clinic for veterinary care. While cats seem to be less frequently affected by ear troubles, up to 20% of dogs can be affected by ear infections at any one time. Unlike our ear canal, the ear canals of our pets are actually “L”-shaped which allows water and dirt to sit deep in the ear for extended lengths of time. The primary cause of any ear infection can actually be very complicated and may involve a combination of the following: the ear’s physical characteristics (upright vs. floppy, having hairs in the canal), the activities of the animal (swimming, digging, hunting), the presence of parasites, foreign objects, improper cleaning, or allergic conditions. Even the weather can affect the ear and lead to an infection.
As with any infection, it is important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible, to limit the secondary problems that may occur when a problem is left too long. When an infection is allowed to continue untreated, the upper ear canal can swell in response to the problem, just as our skin swells when it is irritated. This swelling can actually worsen the ear condition, by preventing medication from getting down to the base of the ear where most conditions begin. Also, this swelling stops air from reaching the area of infection, contributing to the severity of the condition.
Steps to Caring for Your Pet’s Ears:
- With your pet standing and head in a vertical position apply enough ear cleaner to fill the ear canal, then gently massage at the base of the ear for about 5-10 seconds (Fig. 1 – Fig. 2)
- Allow pet to shake head to loosen debris in the horizontal part of the ear canal, then use cotton balls to wipe out and dry the accessible portion of the ear canal & ear flap (Fig. 3 – Fig. 4) Avoid use of cotton tipped applicators.
- Check your pet’s ears regularly – normal ears appear pale pink, dry and clean.