Even the best pet owners sometimes overlook caring for their companion's ears. Today, our Portland veterinarians offer advice on how to look after your cat or dog's ears as well as how to tell if there's a problem that requires veterinary care.
Ear Care for Pets
Many pet owners avoid taking care of their pet’s ears out of fear of hurting their animal friend, but actively searching for common ear problems can improve the health – and even prevent life-threatening conditions – of your beloved cat or dog.
The twisty, curvy, and furry interior of your pet’s ears makes it easy for parasites, bacteria, dirt, and debris to hide. It also makes it difficult for bugs and debris to escape, potentially irritating and damaging the delicate tissues lining the inside of your pet’s ear canals.
Checking your pet’s ears weekly for dirt, infestation, and irritation helps you stay ahead of small problems before they develop into major health problems.
Allergies & Ear Conditions
Allergies often cause chronic ear conditions or recurring infections in pets. If your pet is frequently diagnosed with an ailment of the ear, consult with your vet to determine if allergies may be the underlying cause.
Examining Your Pet's Ears
Check your pet's ears weekly. If their ears seem dirty, apply a liquid ear cleaning solution to a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze and gently lift away any dirt or debris you see.
Do not use a scrubbing motion and do not attempt to clean your pet’s ear canal, as this can cause further irritation or damage
Signs of Infection
During your weekly ear checks, look for signs and symptoms of common ear conditions that can affect your dog or cat. Ear mites, a type of highly contagious parasite, are common among pets. Signs of ear mites include excessive itching and debris in your pet’s ear that looks like coffee grounds.
Bacteria, yeast, and debris in the ear canal may cause an infection. Signs of an ear infection include
- Foul odor
- Bloody, yellow, or brown discharge from the ear
- Hair loss or crusted, scabby skin
- Rubbing ears on the carpet or pawing at ears
- Shaking or tilting head
- Loss of balance
If you notice any of the above symptoms of an ear condition you should arrange to bring your pet to the veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment options.
The Foxtail Plant
The foxtail plant is a common weed in Portland and other areas in the Western half of the United States that can cause serious infection in your dog or cat.
Dogs and cats are vulnerable to the barbed seed heads of the foxtail plant, which can work their way into any part of your pet’s body, from the tip of their nose to a patch of skin on their hindquarters.
The veterinarians at Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital use a special scope and tiny tools to locate and remove even the tiniest foxtail seeds from your pet’s ears.