Ear infections are common health problems pets face, especially for dogs. However, other animals such as cats and rabbits are also prone to ear infections. As a pet owner, it’s important to know what you are up against and how to treat it.
An infection in the ear means inflammation within the canal has occurred. Generally, there are three forms of ear infections: otitis externa (external), otitis media (middle), and otitis interna (inner). These names refer to the three different parts of your pet’s ear canal. The most common type is external as this is typically where the infection begins.
Infections in the middle or inner part of your pet’s ear are often caused by an external infection left untreated. These can be more problematic as they are deeper within your pet’s ear and can lead to deafness, facial paralysis, and other serious conditions.
What are the symptoms?
Ear infections can be uncomfortable and even painful for your pet, so it is important to look out for the following symptoms:
- Head shaking or tilting
- Scratching or pawing at ears
- Excessive face rubbing
- Redness and inflammation around ears
- Crusting or scabs
- Reluctance to move or chew (this symptom is more common in rabbits)
In more extreme cases, a loss of balance, inability to hear, and strange eye movement can occur.
The shape of your pet’s ear canal differs from that of your own. Often animal ears tend to hold more moisture and fluid making them prone to ear infections.
Infections can be caused by several factors:
- Ear mites
- Wax build-up
- Trapped fur
- Excessive ear cleaning
- Foreign bodies lodged within the canal
- Abscesses or tumors
- Disorders and disease (such as autoimmune and thyroid)
- Underlying health issues
Can I treat my pet myself?
As you can see from the list above, there are many reasons that your pet might be suffering from an ear infection. The moment you see any of the symptoms or feel as though your pet may have an infection, you should take him to the vet immediately so the doctor can determine the right treatment.
Avoid treating your pet on your own. Using an ear medication that is bought over the counter without getting a diagnosis from your veterinarian can lead to serious complications for your pet. These medications may not treat the cause of the problem and may make matters worse.
There are many reasons for your pet to have an ear infection, so it is important to take your pet to the vet so that the veterinarian can determine the cause and treat your loved one accordingly.
Often the vet will do an overall wellness examination in the beginning and will ask questions about your pet and his medical history before examining the ear. Cleaning may be required to get a better view and might be done again before applying the treatment. Blood tests, food trials, and other tests might be involved to determine the issue if not made obvious.
Treatment will vary based on the cause, nature, and severity of the infection. Common treatments are antibiotics, oral medication, and surgery.
Your vet may prescribe your pet with take-home medication and expect you to carry out your pet’s care until the follow-up. Read the instructions in the office and ask any questions you may have before leaving to ensure you can administer the treatment properly.
Follow-up or recheck appointments are crucial as your vet wants to make sure the medicine is doing the job and your pet is getting better. Complete all medication even if the ear looks better and your pet’s condition has improved.
Medication can only go so far, so be sure to do your part as a pet parent in preventing ear infections.
- Keep your house clean from dust and other allergens
- Wash pet bedding on a regular basis
- Dry your pet’s ears thoroughly after swimming and bathing
- Clean your pet’s ears as instructed by your vet
- Visit the veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem
For more information, contact us at Valley Veterinary Clinic today.