Although our pets’ ears are often some of the most expressive, as well as one of the cutest, parts of their bodies, it’s easy to overlook them when it comes to grooming and other health needs. Many pet owners assume that pets take care of their own ear health, and that we would know if there was a problem in that area.
As it turns out, most pets (especially dogs) need their ears cleaned from time to time to prevent infection. Regular ear cleaning also allows you to inspect for problems, such as mites, ticks, and other health concerns.
Our pets experience the world through their ears, making proper pet ear care an essential component to their overall health and well-being.
Ear concerns are one of the most common reasons pets are brought to the veterinarian. Unlike people, who generally suffer from inner ear problems, pets are more likely to have trouble with their external ear canals.
Ear infections in dogs and cats can result from an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the middle, inner, or outer ear. Without proper care, up to 20% of pets will wind up with an ear infection at some point in their lives. Untreated ear infections are painful and can lead to ear damage and hearing loss.
The signs of ear infections in pets include:
- Strong, unpleasant odor
- Persistent scratching at the ear
- Hair loss
- Head shaking
- Excess ear wax or black debris
- Redness or swelling
- Loss of balance
Contact us immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms in your pet.
Pet Ear Care Basics
Cleaning your pet’s ears should be included in your regular grooming regimen, right alongside baths, brushing, and nail trims.
Before you begin, gather your supplies:
- A cat or dog ear cleaning solution (never use a solution made for people or other animals) to break down wax
- Cotton wipes or cotton balls (not Q-tips, as these can push the wax farther in or damage the ear canal)
- Washcloth (to absorb excess fluid)
- Treats (to reward your pet for a job well done)
The following basic steps will get you started:
- Hold your pet’s ear flap upright and fill the ear with cleanser, taking care not to insert the tip of the bottle too far down into the ear canal.
- Allow your pet to shake, and then gently massage the base of the ear to loosen wax and debris.
- Use cotton balls or pads to remove debris from inside the ear.
- Use a warm washcloth on the external ear to soak up any remaining fluid.
- Reward your pet.
Because your pet may not enjoy having his or her ears cared for, be sure to make the experience as pleasurable as possible by providing treats, praise, and plenty of snuggles along the way.
Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services with your pet ear care questions or concerns. We are happy to assist you in learning to take the best possible care of your pet’s precious ears!