Itchy Ear…..Oh Dear!

Ear infections are one of the most common causes for dog and cat visits to the vet.  They are quite common particularly in dogs.  The first signs of your pet catching an ear infection are scratching of the ear or frequent head shaking.  You may also notice a horrible smell coming from the ear or see yellow, brown or black waxy discharge inside the ear.

The ear is made up of 4 components.  The visible part is the pinna, or ear flap.  The ear canal is the part of the ear that you see when you lift up the pinna.  It is made of horizontal and vertical parts, which means that it is L-shaped.  The ear canal leads into the middle ear, and then the inner ear through the tympanic membrane, or ear drum.
The most common organisms that cause ear infections are ear mites (otodectes cynotis), bacteria and yeast.  Ear mites are tiny parasitic insects that can be passed between animals.  These can be seen by your vet with an otoscope, which is a light with a funnel shaped fitting that is used to look inside the ear canal.  Bacteria and yeasts normally live in small numbers in the ears without causing any trouble.  Infections occur either when there is a build-up of moisture in the L-shaped ear canal, or as a supplement to other conditions.  Bacteria and yeasts can be seen by your vet using a microscope.  Ear infections can occasionally have underlying causes such as allergies or tumors.
Treatment for ear infections involve regular cleaning of the ear using a special ear cleaner and ear drops.  Oils and lotions should not be used in the ear as they may serve to worsen the problem. Your  vet may recommend flushing of the ear under sedation or oral antibiotics in addition to ear drops.  Ear infections, while nasty and uncomfortable, can be treated fairly easily, resulting in a happy pet once again!

Could you bear to just sit and watch  your pet suffering, or do  you look for any solution to try to ease its pain? Please share with us any treatments you might have tried in the past that worked to help your pet get rid of this common infection effectively.

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