But did you know that the type of ears your dog has may be a factor in whether or not he or she is pre-disposed to getting ear infections?
There is a similar issue with cats, although not with the shape or size of the ear, but the type of fur your cat has. Since a cat's ears stand erect, they tend to have more hair inside the ear to catch dirt and debris from getting down into the ear canal. But then that poses another problem. Ear mites love hairy ears! So of course, the longer or hairier your cat is, the more likely he or she is to get ear infections and ear mite infestations.
But first, what is an ear infection?
Well, just like in humans, an ear infection in dogs or cats is an infestation of some type, whether it is caused by a type of bacteria, ear mites, or fungi like yeast. These microbes are generally present in a healthy population, but when the conditions are just right (warm and wet), these can grow out of control very quickly.
What causes ear infections in pets?
We’ve touched base on the causes briefly, but let’s get a little further in. Dogs and cats ears are similar to humans in that they contain basically the same parts, an outer ear, ear canal, eardrum, and inner ear. However, they are shaped very differently. Where a humans ear canal is horizontal, dogs and cats have vertical ear canals, meaning they go up and down. This poses a problem because that means that any dirt, debris, or moisture is easily trapped down inside the ear, and is difficult to get back out. It's these warm and wet conditions that allow the microbes to run rampant.
Dogs that have large ears that “lay down” instead of standing erect are more likely to get ear infections due to moisture build up. Likewise, dogs or cats that have excessive hair in or around their ears are also very prone to ear infections.
How do I know if my dog or cat has an ear infection?
Just like in humans, there is a list of symptoms that accompany ear infections in pets. Here are some things to look for:
- Scratching of the ear or area around the ear
- Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
- Odor in the ear
- Crusts or scabs on the inside of the outer ear
- Hair loss around the ear
- Rubbing of the ear and surrounding area on the floor or furniture
- Head shaking or head tilt
- Loss of balance
- Walking in circles
- Hearing loss
Of course, this is not a complete list, but these are the most common. If you notice that your dog or cat is showing some these signs, then it is certainly worth a trip to your veterinarian.
How is an ear infection treated?
Ear infections are generally treated by your veterinarian with a really good cleaning and depending upon the type of ear infections, usually, a round of oral antibiotics is given.
An ear infection in a dog or cat that is left untreated is extremely painful for your pet and can lead to permanent damage to the ear canal and hearing.
How can I prevent my pet from getting ear infections?
Check your dog or cats ears regularly for cleanliness. Excessive discharge, wax buildup, or an odor can mean that your pet is on the way to an infection.
Make sure you keep your pet's ears as dry as possible and clean them well after swimming, especially if in a natural body of water like a lake, pond, or river.
If you notice that your pet's ears are dirty and need a good cleaning, we recommend a solution that will gently clean the ear, kill the microbes, and dry quickly to eliminate the higher risk of an ear infection.
An ear cleaner such as our LIVELY PETS Advanced Plus Ear Cleaner contains all of these. Antiseptic solutions such EDTA and Chloroxylenol kill the microbes in the ear, Disodium Sulfosuccinate is a de-greasing emulsifier that is commonly used in skin care products and it effectively breaks down ear wax that has trapped dirt or debris, and Salicylic Acid (the same compound found in skin care products) helps the ear canal to dry quickly.
Using LIVELY PETS Advanced Plus Ear Cleaner is easy. The bottle comes with a twist open nozzle that is easily inserted into the upper portion of your dog or cats ear canal. Apply the solution liberally to the ear and gently massage the base of your pet's ear to ensure that the solution is reaching all the way down inside where the dirt and debris are trapped. After 5 – 10 seconds, let your pet shake his or her head to dislodge any foreign material. You can do this as often as you feel your pet needs it!
If your pet's ears are really “funky”, then we recommend soaking a cotton ball in the solution and gently wiping the area of the ear that you can effectively see. NEVER stick anything into your pets ear canal! You may seriously harm your pet's ear and damage his or her hearing. Do this before administering the solution into the ear and repeat daily for the first week or until you have seen noticeable results. Once every 1-2 weeks works for good ear hygiene!