advice for keeping pet's ears healthy

advice for keeping pets ears healthy
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jul 19 2017

When it comes to ear care for our pets, less is actually more. A normal healthy ear in a dog or cat contains a delicate balance of good bacteria and yeast. There are a few predisposing factors that upset this balance (more on that below) and create the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to thrive! Regular inspection of your pet’s ears will be your first line of defense in the battle for optimal ear health.

5 predisposing factors of pets prone to ear infections:

A history of allergies

Whether it be food allergies, contact allergies, or seasonal inhaled allergies.

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Floppy ears

Any dog with long, floppy ears - think Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds - are more prone to infection.

A history of ear infections

Some infections are recurrent after they’ve been cleared; if your pet has had an infection in the past, be vigilant about monitoring ear health.

Increased ear wax production 

Some dogs and cats just produce a lot of ear wax. This debris can trap bacteria or yeast and may contribute to increased ear infections.

Excess ear hair

Dogs with hair in their ear canals, such as Poodles, are prone to infection. If your pet has excess ear hair and is getting ear infections often, talk to your veterinarian about how to keep the ear canals clean and healthy.

When examining your pet’s ears, be sure to observe both the ear flap (or pinna) and as much of the ear opening as they will allow. Please do not insert anything into your pet’s ears.

6 signs of ear infections:

  1. Increased discharge. Ear infections are typically accompanied by thick brown or yellow discharge. Black crumbly debris (resembling coffee grounds) can also be a sign of ear mites.
  2. Foul odor. Both yeast and bacterial overgrowth result in a particularly stinky ear.
  3. Crusty ears. Crusts on the pinna or inside the ear are abnormal.
  4. Sores on the pinna, especially in cats.
  5. Painful, red, or ulcerated ears.
  6. A swelling on the ear flap or hematoma. A collection of blood within the ear flap can form due to excessive head shaking that sometimes accompanies ear infections.

If you think your pet has an ear infection, you’ll want to get to the vet as soon as possible as this is a very painful condition. There, they will determine the type of infection, clean your pet’s ears, recommend a leave-in ear medication or a medication for you to continue at home. If it’s your pet’s first ear infection ask your veterinary team for an ear cleaning and medication demonstration.

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