DogTime Blogs

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ASK THE VET: At-Home Cleaning of Itchy, Smelly Ears

Itchiness, smelliness, and redness can definitely be signs of an inflamed and/or infected ear.

The most common Causes of ear problems include:
1. Yeast infections
2. Food Allergies – often both ears and accompanied by itchy feet and belly
3. Fox tails/Grass Seeds – often accompanied by head shaking or pawing into the ear
4. Parasites - mites (demodex), fleas, ticks
5. Hypothyroidism – often both ears

The following can be done to determine the cause:
• Ear swabs can help determine if there is an infection
• Allergy testing can be done to rule out allergies
• Fox tails can be ruled out with examination of the ear canal usually under anaesthetic
• Parasites can be controlled with regular preventive medicines
• Blood tests can rule out hypothyroidism

When dealing with ear problems, especially infections, it is extremely important to have the ear checked by a veterinarian before using any cleaning solutions. Ear infections can cause an ear drum to rupture and using cleaning solutions whilst an ear drum is ruptured can cause serious harm to your pet.

Cleaning tips:
• Use mild ear cleansers such as Saline or Saline plus povidone iodine (diluted) when the health of the ear drum is unknown
• Moisten a ear pad or gauze swab and place a few drops of saline into the ears and massage the base of the ear (where the ear joins the head)
• Massage in an upward motion as if to expel the fluid from the ear canal
• Ensure that all liquid is gently removed from the ear once flushed.
• Avoid using Q-tips as this can push the infectious material deeper into the ear canal and also rupture the ear drum

Always, ask your local veterinarians if you are unsure.

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