"What's in your Pet's Ears?"
As pet owners, we know that it is our responsibility to care for our pets in every way, and that means more than just making sure they have enough food, clean water, and a clean place to sleep. It means that we must also monitor and care for their health.
And as we are all too aware, sometimes that means we have to do the less glamorous jobs like cleaning out ears. Be that as it may, it is still incredibly important that you maintain good ear health for your pets, regardless of if you have a dog or a cat.
What am I looking at?
If you’re new to being a pet parent or you’re just now deciding to take a stand against dirty pet ears, you may take that first peek into your pet’s ears and wonder, “What on Earth am I looking at?”.
There may be yellowish goo, built-up dirt, scabs or just dead skin cells hanging around inside the ear canal. Some dogs or cats may have too much hair inside the ear to get a good look.
Whatever it is, it’s important to know what you are looking at so you can correctly treat your pet’s ear condition.
Too much Hair!
First off, when looking inside your pet's ear, you need to make sure that there is not an overgrowth of hair. Cats and long-haired dogs are especially prone to ear infections and mite infestations because all the hair inside the ear traps moisture, bacteria, and viruses and allows them to thrive and flourish, leaving your pet with red, irritated, and painful ears. So make sure you have a clear view of the ear canal and that there isn’t excess hair trapping dirt and debris. If there is, you can either trim the hair yourself if you are comfortable and able, or you can let a professional groomer do it for you.
Is it Dirt?
If you find a brown buildup with a “coffee ground” like texture, it’s very likely that what you are seeing could be ear mites. Ear mites are tiny, microscopic parasites that feed on the dirt and skin cells that accumulate in your pet’s ears. They live and nest inside the ear wax build-up, making it turn brown in color and sometimes there is even an odor that accompanies an ear mite infestation.
Ear mites cause itching, so if you see your pet scratching his or her ears frequently or shaking her the head often, it could be the first sign of ear mites. Constant scratching will cause sores and scabs outside of the ear from your pet trying to get relief inside the ear.
Ear mites are also contagious… sort of. They can move to other dogs, cats, and even small animals like ferrets and rabbits. So it’s always best to check frequently for ear mites and use preventative methods like regular ear cleanings.
If you discover that your pet already has a case of the ear mites, then the first thing you’ll want to do is clean the ear canal thoroughly. You can do this with a liquid ear wash (like our Ultra-Otic Advanced Plus ear cleaner) and a cotton ball or cloth, or you can use an ear cleaning wipe such as our (Ultra-Otic Advanced Plus Ear Cleaner Wipes) to gently wipe away the gunk from the inside.
After cleaning the ear really well, you’ll need to use something that will effectively eliminate the mites. We recommend a product like Hartz Ultra Guard that kills ear mites on contact.
Once the ear canal has been effectively treated for mites, then regular cleanings are required to prevent further infestations and infections.
What is it?
If you find that your pet’s ear canal doesn’t appear to have mites, but instead is very red and inflamed, it is likely that he or she has a nasty yeast infection.
Yeast is a type of fungus that loves warm, wet areas. Yeast also produces a “corn-chip” like-smell and is very itchy and painful. If you suspect that your pet has a yeast infection in his or her ear, then you’ll need to use an antifungal ear cleaner with ketoconazole and chlorhexidine or some other type of powerful antifungal.
You will need to thoroughly clean and treat the ear daily for up to a week to effectively get rid of the yeast infection. If you find that your pet is getting reoccurring yeast infections in the ear, then try bathing your dog in an antifungal shampoo like our Derma-Soothe Medicated Shampoo, and focus on scrubbing under the toenails. Yeast can live under the toenails for a long time, from a few days to a few weeks. If they continually scratch with yeast infected claws, they will present with reoccurring infections.