A common problem in pets is itchy ears. Although it only seems a small thing, an intensely itchy ear can be very irritating for your pet. Can you imagine having an itch in your ear you just can’t seem to scratch!? Itchy ears can cause endless shaking, rubbing and scratching, which can mean sleepless nights for both you and your afflicted pet. So what causes these itchy ears, and what can you do to help your pet?
The most common causes of itchy ears include:
1) Allergic skin disease — this is a very likely cause of itchy ears in pets, especially in dogs. What happens in the ears before becoming inflamed due to an allergen (it can be absorbed, inhaled or ingested), which results in a change in the normal skin barrier, allowing an overgrowth of bacteria and/or yeast.
2) Yeast infections – usually these are secondary to moisture or allergic skin disease.
3) Bacterial infections – most bacterial infections are secondary to other processes such as masses, foreign bodies and allergic skin conditions.
4) Masses or polyps in the ear canal – these can make secondary infections with yeast or bacteria more likely.
5) Foreign bodies – sometimes things that don’t belong end up in ears, which can cause intense itching, usually this is just in one ear.
What you can do at home?
1) Check your pets’ ears every week. Look at the inside surface to make sure there is no redness or discharge. If you notice any changes, we recommend discussing with the veterinarian.
2) Keep pets with hairy ears well groomed: certain breeds such as poodles, maltese and shitzu’s, naturally have very hairy ears. These dogs require removal of the hair on the inside surface of the ear by shaving (we call this a bullseye), and in some cases also the hair may need to be plucked out of the canal. This helps the ears breathe and avoid moisture.
3) If your pet is showing any clinical signs (head shaking, rubbing, scratching, discharge from the ears or redness) you should bring them into the Vet. Early intervention is the key to getting ear problems under control.
1) History: before examining your pet, usually your vet will ask you a few questions to understand the problem better.
2) Physical examination: your vet will examine your whole pet, not just the ears. The ears will be looked at more closely with a special instrument called an otoscope.
3) Ear ‘cytology’ or discharge examination: your Vet may take a swab of your pets’ ear and look at it under the microscope to look for parasites, yeasts and bacteria.
4) Ear culture and sensitivity: with severe ear infections or if your pet is not responding to treatment, your vet may recommend a swab be sent away to the laboratory for testing.
5) Cleaning of the ears under anaesthetic: for severe ear infections your vet may recommend the ear canals are cleaned with copious flushing to remove debris to help with treatment but also so they can better visualise the ear canal and drum.
If you are worried at all about your pets ears, please don’t hesitate to contact us for an appointment on 4159 1009.