Listen Up! The Importance of Keeping Pet Ears Clean

Red dogMuch like dental care, pet ears can sometimes be a mystery to pet owners. It’s easy to assume our furry companions can clean their own ears, and if there’s a problem, we’d know it.

In reality, dogs and cats need their ears cleaned periodically (especially dogs). This prevents infection and allows you to look for problems such as mites, ticks, or underlying health issues.

Because ear health can be a subtle yet important indicator of a number of different conditions, ear cleaning is an essential part of grooming and pet care.

Symptoms of Ear Infections and Other Problems

Ear and skin problems are two of the most common reasons pets are taken to the veterinarian. Among dogs, bacterial and fungal ear infections are at the top of the list year after year.

Pet ears are quite sensitive. Because of extra hair and all those nooks and crannies, it’s easy to overlook potential problems. At Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we recommend inspecting pet ears at least once a week. Look around your pet’s ear and inside the canal using a bright light or take your pet to a well-lit room.

Take note of the following symptoms or signs:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Foul smell
  • Discharge
  • Scabs
  • Hair loss
  • Persistent scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Excess ear wax or black debris

Ear infections in dogs and cats are a result of bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the middle, inner, or outer ear. Infections can also be caused by allergies, ear mites, tumors, skin disorders, or injury. Treatment depends on the cause of the infection but typically includes antibiotics or antifungal medication.

If left untreated, ear infections can cause a lot of pain and can result in hearing loss or deafness. If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, please contact us immediately.

Cleaning Pet Ears the Safe and Easy Way

Cleaning pet ears may be difficult at first, so try associating the process with a reward so your pet warms up to the idea. During the cleaning, incorporate a gentle massage or other pleasurable grooming, such as brushing your pet’s fur.

To properly clean your pet’s ears, follow these basic steps:

  1. Purchase a cat or dog ear cleaning solution (do not use solutions made for people or other animals). This will help break down wax and debris gently using nontoxic ingredients.
  2. Have cotton wipes (such as those used for makeup removal) or cotton balls on hand. Never use Q-tips, as these can damage the ear.
  3. Start at the outer edge of your pet’s ear, inspecting and wiping the skin.
  4. Gently fold back the ear and work your way in. Do not attempt to go beyond what’s visible – stop if you feel any resistance within the ear canal.

If your cotton balls become particularly dirty, it’s a good idea to schedule an exam since this may indicate mites or other problems.

Although ears don’t get the attention they deserve, they are critical to pet health and wellbeing. Keep your pet’s ears in good condition with a little TLC and attention.