Itchy Ears

Information about itchy ears in cats and dogs, and scratching.

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  1. What is Itchy Ears?
  2. What Causes Itchy Ears?
  3. Diagnosing Itchy Ears
  4. More Information on Itchy Ears

What is Itchy Ears?

Itchy ears are a very common condition that affects both cats and dogs. When your pet scratches and shakes his head uncontrollably, scratches his ears or rubs them against you, the couch or carpet, something may be causing them to itch.

What Causes Itchy Ears?

There are a number of reasons that can cause your pet to paw their ears and these include ear mites, allergies to food, airborne particles or toxins, dry skin (seborrhoea) or even foreign objects that may be lodged in them. Some underlying diseases such as polyps or a thyroid condition can also cause itchy ears. This condition tends to more prevalent in hairy-eared dogs such as terriers and poodles.

Diagnosing Itchy Ears

If you notice that your pet scratches his ears frequently, has dark debris in their ears, dry skin or scabs around the ears, there is foul smell emanating from them or they are swollen, then you should see your vet. Other common symptoms and signs of itchy ears include if your pet is tilting his head to one side, has trouble with balance or scratches persistently during the warmer months.

Your vet will perform an otoscopic examination or take an ear swab to check for an infection or ear mites. Medications such as antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection or cortisone may be given in drop, injection or drop form to alleviate the itching. Itchy ears are extremely uncomfortable for your pet and if left untreated, can lead to bacterial infection and inflammation.

More Information on Itchy Ears

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent itchy ears in your pet and these include:
  • Clean your pet ears regularly with a non-alcoholic cleaning solution to prevent a build-up of wax debris that may contribute to itchy ears
  • Use a clean, damp cloth or cotton wool with a natural cleaning solution to wipe your pet’s ears
  • Monitor what your dog or cat eats so that you will be able to determine whether they are allergic to any of the ingredients in their food
  • Dry your pet’s ears thoroughly after a swim or a bath because the excess moisture can cause an infection
  • Put a pair of socks on your pet’s hind feet to prevent his nails from damaging the ears or have him fitted with an Elizabethan collar
  • If your pet has hairy ears, remove or trim some of the hair to allow sufficient circulation of air into the ear canals to keep them dry
  • If you suspect that your pet may have fleas, ticks or ear mites, use parasite control treatments to eliminate them
  • Make sure that your house is cleaned thoroughly if household pets are allergic to dust, dust mites or mold
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