Ear infections: painful when you’re a kid, annoying when you’re an adult, and dangerous for your pets. Both dogs and cats can be affected by ear infections, but it is a more common problem for dogs. Sorry, pups!
There are three levels of ear infections, depending on the part of the ear afflicted:
- Otitis externa
- Otitis Media
- Otitis Interna
Outer ear infections (externa) can be painful and annoying, but if they persist to the inner ear (interna), neurological damage and deafness can occur.
There are many different reasons why your pup or kitty comes down with an ear infection. From ear mites (more often for cats), to rashes and allergies, bacterial infection, or even cancer or cysts.
Since some conditions are far more serious than others, it’s best to check with your veterinarian to determine the cause of the ear infection before choosing a treatment plan.
How do I know it's an ear infection?
If your pet starts scratching at their ear, this could be an early sign of an infection. Other indicators include brownish discharge, odor, hair loss around the ear (due to scratching), redness and swelling, or even disorientation and loss of balance.
There are some factors that can predispose your pet to ear infections.
- Floppy ears (as opposed to pointy ones) are much more likely to develop infections.
- Excessive moisture (from swimming or bathing) can create an atmosphere where bacteria thrive!
- Be careful trying to absorb excess moisture—damage can also be caused by cotton swabs irritating the ear canal or pushing debris further back into the ear.
Make it better!
Each pet has different ears and different symptoms, so be sure to consult with your veterinarian for the best form of treatment for your pet.
To prevent infections in the future, have your pet's ears cleaned regularly. You can ask your groomer or veterinarian for instructions, and even clean your pet's ears (very gently!) at home.
To treat the infection, a variety of ear cleaners and washes may be prescribed in conjunction with oral medications. Follow the full course of medication prescribed to make sure you kick that pesky ear infection for good!