A lot of unwanted things can clog up your pet’s ears. Dust, pests, dander, allergens, and bacteria naturally find their way into the ears of animals. Dogs and cats are susceptible to having many unwanted substances in their ears because of their ears’ wide-open anatomy of their bodies. The most significant danger these substances can pose are ear infections which can be extremely painful and if not cared for promptly, lead to debilitating health conditions including permanent hearing loss.

Two of the biggest infections for dogs are susceptible to develop are bacteria-based and yeast. For cats, the biggest danger is ear mites. Almost 50% of ear infections in cats are caused by ear mites invading their ears. Some breeds with long floppy ears, like basset hounds and cocker spaniels, may have more issues and occurrences with ear hygiene which can result in ear infections. This is not a genetic issue but simply because moisture and dirt are easier to accumulate within the ear flaps.

For regular ear cleaning at home, be sure only to use veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solutions. It is essential not to use regular soap as this may irritate your pet’s ears. When cleaning the ears, hold the ear flap up if needed and always be gentle. Add enough solution to fill the ear canal without inserting the applicator into the ear or touching the applicator to the ear. Wipe the ear with a cotton ball and then let your pet shake their ears clean. Never use a Q-tip, cotton swab, or similar type of applicator as they may harm your pet’s ears.

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Your pet may need their ears cleaned more or less often depending on the type of pet with factors regarding their level of activity, their age, breed, and their environment. Some pets require a regular ear cleaning while some rarely need it. Your vet will advise you on the best routine for your pet.

Professional veterinarians have the knowledge, expertise, equipment, and tools necessary to diagnose and treat your pet. If you notice redness, discharge, swelling, head tilting, or other signs of an ear infection, do not try to attempt to clean your pet’s ears yourself. Bring your pet to the vet for an appointment. There is always the risk of hurting your pet more or not fully getting rid of the infection. Ear infections also look very different for both dogs and cats.

For dogs, ear infections are one of the most common concerns dogs need to see the vet for. A dog’s ear has three parts and any of which can become irritated, swollen, inflamed, or infected. This can cause horrible pain, loss of balance, and temporary or permanent hearing loss. For dogs, ear infections are often caused by bacteria or yeast. This can also be caused by wax build-up and thick matted hair.

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For cats, the leading cause is mites, but allergies, damaged eardrums, or severe health conditions such as diabetes and leukemia can also cause them. Ear infections for cats are excruciating, as their ears are very sensitive. If untreated or treated late, they can become painful and result in facial paralysis, permanent hearing loss, or total deafness.

Regular wellness exams can help prevent painful ear infections. It is also essential to take your pet to the vet during an ear infection to address and diagnose any ear conditions. Your vet can also help you learn about the best practices for cleaning and protecting your pet’s ears all year round and help them stay safe and healthy.