Pet ear infections are very common in both cats and dogs and at some point in their life, they’ll most likely suffer from this painful disease. There are two different types of ear infections, otitis media, where the middle of your pet’s ear is inflamed, and otitis interna which is inflammation of your pet’s inner ear.
Yeast and bacteria cause both of these ear infections that affect your adult pet. Dog breeds which have long ears, non-erect outer ears, and excessive hair, for example, cocker spaniels, are more likely to catch canine ear infections. All cat breeds are susceptible to both of these conditions. When your cat or dog shows signs of an ear infection, you must take them to a animal hospital immediately.
What Causes Pet Ear Infections?
Just like all other parts of the body, your pet’s ears have yeast and bacteria cells present, but not enough to cause infection. If the organism levels of the bacteria and yeast increase, otitis can occur. Another reason for otitis is if the natural organisms are replaced by pathogenic organisms, which can cause disease.
Some diseases and disorders are the primary sources of your dog or cat’s infection, these include:
- Ear Mites (most common in puppies and kittens)
- Skin Disorders
- Foreign Bodies/Objects
- Polyps or Tumors in the Ear
- Thyroid Disease (dogs only)
In both dog and cat ear infections, some of the bacteria will take advantage of the unhealthy environment where the ear is inflamed. As these organisms grow, the inflammation escalates and so does the irritation caused to your pet. When the ear canal swells, the tube becomes narrower and wax production increases – your pet’s ears will become painful and itchy. Untreated or deep ear infections can lead to complications such as eardrum rupture, neurological signs and hearing loss.
What Symptoms Will Your Pet Show?
When your pet has an ear infection, whether it’s otitis media or interna, your dog or cat will show a range of signs that indicate they are suffering from the disease. You should pay attention to any of the following symptoms:
- If your pet is frequently shaking their head
- If you can smell an unusual yeasty scent coming from their ears
- If you notice a discharge coming from their ears
- If your pet has been nauseous
- If they’re frequently tilting their head as if trying to remove something
- If your pet has a swollen, red and inflamed ear canal
- If your pet is circling
- If your pet is making unusual eye movements (nystagmus)
- If you notice that your pet has been unable to keep their balance when walking or standing
- If your pet is scratching or pawing at their head and ears
- If your pet has dry eyes
- If your pet seems to suffer from sudden hearing loss
- If your pet has an unusual pupil size
How Otitis Gets Diagnosed
If you think that your pet is suffering from an ear infection, you need to get them professionally looked at by a vet. They will use an otoscope to look into the ear canal and diagnose any potential ear infection. If your pet is fighting an otitis, the skin inside of the ear is irritated so turns a dark red. The vet will also look for discharge inside of the ear and take a swab to send to the labs. The test will reveal what type of yeast and bacteria is causing the infection in the ear.
When the vet is looking for infection, they must pull on the ear to straighten out the canal. If they find any pus or fluid behind the drum, they may diagnose your pet with otitis media. It’s important for your vet to know the type of ear infection that your pet has so that they can prescribe an effective treatment.
Preventing Pet Ear Infections
When the infection in your pet’s ear gets cleared, to prevent a re-occurrence, you must keep the ears clean so that the environment inside remains healthy. Although regular cleaning can help, it doesn’t mean that it’s enough. If your pet has any underlying diseases, future infections can potentially occur.
If Your Pet Is Showing Symptoms, Call The Vet
Both cat and dog ear infections that are left untreated are very painful. They can lead to permanent hearing loss, loss of balance and even brain infections. If your pet is showing any signs of ear infection, it’s imperative that you seek professional advice as soon as possible. If you’re worried about your pet, you can call Town & Country Animal Hospital on (239) 353-5060 to schedule an appointment today for Pet Ear Infections.