Getting to know your pet's ears can help detect and prevent ear problems and infections. Whilst some breeds of pets, particularly breeds of dogs, are prone to ear problems, inflammation (otitis) and infections can occur in others from something as simple as a grass seed.
Getting to know your pet's ears.....
Get familiar with your pet's ears, so that you know what they should look like. If your pet is prone to ear problems we suggest daily checks, for others a weekly check is ideal.
Look out for changes on a regular basis
- Skin colour inside the ear should be light pink. If the ear is infected or inflamed the skin in the ear will be red and maybe thicker than normal.
- Unusual discharge, which may be yellow, dark brown, green or black.
- Head shaking and scratching
- Unpleasant odour
- Pain on touching ears
So what causes ear infections?
There are a number of reasons for ear infections including:-
- Allergies to food, pollen, dust, etc
- Foreign bodies such as grass seeds
- Parasites such as ear mites
There are also a number of things that can predispose your pet to ear infections including:-
- Ear size and shape - the ear canal of dogs and cats is not designed for adequate drying and drainage. This causes the ear canal to stay warm and moist and together with poor air flow, provides the perfect environment for natural skin bacteria to live.
- Environmental temperature and humidity
- Lifestyle (e.g. swimming)
Recurrent infections can also occur because a problem has not been accurately diagnosed and treated or an underlying problem has not been identified.
Changes in your pet's ears - what should you do?
The first step is to consult your veterinarian. Your vet will examine the ear with an instrument called an otoscope. If they detect an infection they will take a swab from the area to conduct cytology (look at a sample under microscope) to determine the likely cause of the problem, which will assist with accurate treatment choice.
Chronic ear infections can lead to narrowing of the ear canal which in itself can lead to more frequent infections and less response to treatment. Therefore if your veterinarian suspects infection it is important that correct diagnosis and treatment takes place.
Treating ear problems
Your veterinarian may prescribe any of the following treatments:- antibiotics or anti-inflammatory tablets; ear wash/ flush; drops; ear mite treatment; dietary changes; or injections. It is very important to follow their directions for treatment and visit for a re-check when advised.