Did you know that rubbing your pet’s ears is a tell-tale sign that their ears are healthy? A nice ear massage is the first step in checking their ear condition and health. If your dog or cat enjoys having them rubbed, then it means they don’t have any existing ear infections, otherwise, they’ll probably pull away from you, or won’t even let you touch their ears.
What causes ear infections?
Ear infections in pets are one of the leading reasons for vet visits, especially for dogs. A dog’s ear canal is shaped like an “L,” which is prone to getting dirt, grime and gunk deep in the canal where it’s dark and moist. This is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a painful ear infection.
Here are some other factors that predispose pets to irritating and sometimes painful ear infections:
- Breeds with long, heavy, floppy ears, like poodles, retrievers, basset hounds and spaniels
- Pets that make excessive wax
- Hair in ear canal
- Dogs that swim
- Dogs and cats with allergies
- Tumors, polyps, or foreign bodies in the ear
If you notice your pet pulling away from your ear massage, take a sniff. Healthy ears shouldn’t not have any odors. If they smell stinky or yeasty, your dog or cat might have an ear infection.
Healthy dog and cat ears should be clean and pink inside with no detectable odor and shouldn't be sensitive to touch. A light coating of pale yellowish wax is normal and is part of the ear's self-cleaning system. Any bare spots or crustiness should be checked as this could be a sign of sarcoptic mange.
How do you tell if your pet has an ear infection? Here are the common signs:
- Foul odor
- Sensitivity to touch
- Redness, debris or swelling in ears
- Bald tips or crustiness on tips of ears
- Head shaking
- Tilting ears at a funny angle
- Scratching at the ear
- Rubbing ears against the floor, carpet or furniture
If your pet is showing any of these signs, it would be best to have a check-up with your trusted veterinarian to see what’s causing the problem and treat it early on.
Keeping Ears Clear
How do you know when to clean your pet’s ears? How often and when to clean depends on the pet’s lifestyle and how many predisposing factors it has. Cats in particular do not need to have their ears cleaned regularly. With dogs, it varies depending on their activities and their breed.
Long-eared breeds like Basset Hounds, Beagles, Poodles and Cocker Spaniels may be predisposed to ear infections so they need to have their ears cleaned weekly. Dogs that regularly go outdoors or go swimming might need them cleaned on a weekly basis or more often if they get water in their ear canal.
You can tell if their ears need cleaning if they have a mild odor and you see an occasional head shake. You should also clean the ears if you can see a build-up of wax. When too much wax builds up, it can block airflow in the ear and lead to an infection of the outer ear canal. Your best bet for preventing ear infections is to keep your pet’s ears clean and dry. Bacteria thrive on moist environments, to keeping your pet’s ear dry is your number one defense again most ear infections.
How to Clean Your Pet’s Ears:
- If your pet has an earflap, hold it up to expose the canal.
- Move any hair away from the ear canal.
- Do a quick visual inspection to check for swell, discharge or abrasions.
- Squeeze a few drops of the Wondercide All Ears Ear Wash into the canal.
- Massage the ear.
- Let your pet shake his head to loosen any debris and expel excess moisture.
- Using a soft cotton ball or gauze (never a Q-tip), wipe away any remaining moisture from the outer part of your pet’s ear to make sure it’s dry.
Veterinarians usually recommend ear cleaning at least every two weeks for dogs, and only if instructed by your vet for cats. Regular ear cleaning can drastically reduce the number of infections your pet develops. If you’re not too confident about cleaning your pet’s ears on your own, best to schedule an ear cleaning session with your trusted veterinarian or groomer.