Ear infections are caused by microorganisms that replicate in the ears. In dogs, the most common causes of these infections are bacteria and yeast. In cats, mites are responsible for half of all ear infections. Many pets that develop these infections have an underlying condition that causes irritation in the ear canal. Ear infections are extremely common in dogs and less common in cats.
How Ear Infection Affects Your Pet
Conditions that can cause ear canal damage and predispose pets to bacterial and yeast infections include foreign bodies or tumors in the ear canal, allergies, immune system diseases, water in the ear canal, excessive hair or wax in the canal and systemic diseases. Once bacteria and yeast invade the damaged skin of the ear canal, they cause inflammation. This leads to pain, itchiness, redness and heat. If left untreated, infections can spread from the outer ear to the middle and inner ears. The longer an infection goes untreated, the more difficult it is to cure. Another common cause of ear infections in pets is mite infestation. These parasites, contracted through direct contact with infected animals, are particularly common in kittens. Mites replicate in the outer ear and cause irritation and itchiness. Affected pets create further irritation and tissue damage when they scratch and paw at their itchy ears. This tissue damage predisposes affected pets to secondary bacterial and yeast infections.
Common Symptoms of Ear Infection
Symptoms of this pet health condition in cats and dogs include the following: Scratching or pawing at the ear, Head shaking, Rubbing the ear against furniture or the floor, Discharge from the ear, Swelling of the ear canal, Odor coming from the ear, Redness of the ear canal, Scabs or crusts around the ear, Hair loss around the ear, Balance issues, Walking in circles, Pain in the ear and Hearing loss.
Treatments for Ear Infection
The first step in treating an ear infection is cleaning and drying the ear. If the affected animal is in a significant amount of pain, this may require sedation. Next, the veterinarian will examine samples from the ear under a microscope or perform other tests to determine the cause of the infection. For bacterial and yeast infections, veterinarians typically use topical antibiotics and antifungals to kill yeast and bacteria and topical steroids to control inflammation. In animals with more severe infections, oral antibiotics may also be prescribed. Other treatments, including surgery and additional medications, may be necessary to treat any underlying conditions that are present. In pets with ear mites, treatment involves use of topical or injectable ant parasitic drugs.
Dogs of all breeds suffer from ear infections, but those with floppy ears and those with allergies are more prone to developing these infections than other dogs. Some canine breeds in which ear infections are common include the following: Cocker spaniel, Golden retriever, Labrador retriever, Poodle and Schnauzer.
When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.