Published by Dr. Zak Saleh, PhD, MVSc, DVM in Ear Cleaning · 5 December 2019
Tags: Pet, ears, cleaning
Tags: Pet, ears, cleaning
Caring For Your Pet’s Ears
Our pet’s ears can be an ideal dwelling for infectious bacteria or mites. Whether floppy or upright, belonging to a feline or canine, it is important to monitor your pet’s ears, and know how to spot signs of trouble.
What Should I Be Looking For When Examining My Pet’s Ears?
Ear problems are one of the most common problems veterinarians see. That's why it is important for pet owners to properly assess their pet's ears routinely. Here are some common potential signs of a health problem when examining your pet’s ears;
• Redness; When your pet’s skin appears red, this can be a sign of infection. Often times the skin will also be swollen or feel hot.
• Discharge; When noting discharge from your pet’s ear, this is a common sign of infection.
o Yellow or reddish-brown ear discharge can be a sign of ear infections as the result of allergies, excessive bathing or swimming, polyps or overproduction of ear wax
o Blackish-brown ear discharge could be a sign that your pet has ear mites. Often times this type of discharge may look like coffee grounds, or dried shoe polish
• Odour; Often times when a pet has an ear infection there can be an unpleasant odour coming from the ear
• Foreign Objects; Look for any debris or other foreign objects when examining your pet’s ear. This can include traces of grass, pebbles, or burrs, but also often ticks can latch inside the ear and go unnoticed.
Other signs to watch out for in respect to the health of your pet’s ear include;
• Pain; Does your pet react to you examining or touching their ears? Signs of pain can include yelping or whining, or your pet resisting you. This can be a sign of infection
• Scratching; Obviously, pets do occasionally scratch their ears, which does not pose concern. If your pet is repeatedly, persistently scratching their ears this can be a sign of irritation and infection. Frequent scratching can cause bleeding or further contribute to infection.
• Head Shaking; Similar to scratching, most pets may occasionally shake their heads, which is not a concern. If they are shaking their head persistently and frequently this may be a sign of irritation and infection.
If you observe your pet displaying any of these listed signs or symptoms, you should speak with your veterinarian. Ear infections can often be treated and resolved swiftly with the proper treatments as prescribed by your veterinarian. Appropriate treatment will not only resolve the problem, but also make your pet feel much more comfortable!
How Can I Prevent Ear Problems?
Not everyone's pet will require routine cleaning or preventive measures. Depending on your pet's breed or species, cleaning may not be necessary.
Most cats are able to clean their own ears, and maintain good ear health on their own. However if your feline friend has "unique ears", like a Scottish Fold for example, maintaining clean ears on their own may be difficult. You may also notice if your cat is neglectful with grooming, their ears may not be sufficiently cleaned. Another factor to consider is whether or not your cat lives exclusively indoors or not. Cats who are going outside are more likely to have debris get in their ears and increase the risk of infection. In cases like these, it may be necessary for you to lend a hand.
Canines are not able to clean their ears like cats do. Dogs who swim or are bathed frequently are more likely to develop ear infections. Moreover, dogs who have prominent, or long canal hairs are more likely to develop ear infections, and their canal hair should be plucked or trimmed. Certain breeds are also at higher risk of developing ear infections, such as Basset Hounds, due to their floppy ears. You can discuss with your veterinarian further the risk factors associated with ear infections that your canine friend may be susceptible to.
If your pet maintains clean, healthy ears on their own, it is recommended that you do not clean their ears routinely. Persistent and excessive cleaning can actually increase the chance of infection.
However, if your pet appears to struggle with maintaining clean ears on their own, or has suffered from ear infections in the past, there are some recommended preventative measures you can take. Discuss with your veterinarian options for ear cleaning solutions they recommend.
Pet Ear Cleaning Steps
To clean your pet's ear with ear cleaning solution recommended by your vet , just follow these simple steps-
• Gently lift your pet's ear upright to expose the ear canal. Administer the ear cleaning solution in the ear.
• While still holding the ear flap out of the way, gently massage the base of the ear for approximately 15 to 20 seconds.
• Remove dirt and debris by using a piece of gauze or cotton ball. Cleaning with the gauze or cotton ball need only be superficial, and should only have contact with the area of the ear you can see. Attempting to clean further down the ear canal can risk damage to your pet's ear canal.
• Reward your pet once complete before starting on the other ear.
• Repeat the cleaning process on the other ear.
Often times your pet will have the inclination to shake their head as you are cleaning their ears, which is perfectly fine. While some of the cleaning solution may get on you or around your environment, this is actually helpful for pet to clear out excessive cleaning solution. You may hold a towel over your pet's head to try and reduce the amount of solution flying around the environment.
Depending on your pet's comfort levels with you touching their ears, or even the sensitivity they may experience, you may find that your pet is resistant or uncooperative. While it may help to have a family member or friend assist you with the process, it is important to realize when you may need to stop. If your pet is squirming and resisting then you may risk accidental damage to the ear canal. Take breaks as needed throughout the process, to keep your pet safe and comfortable. Also, make sure to reward your pet as much as possible throughout the process.
If you are finding it unmanageable to successfully clean your pet's ears, we are happy to help!
If you are looking for a veterinary clinic in Newmarket, please give us a call at 905-898-1010
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