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Lynnwood, WA 98037

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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Say What? Common Ear Problems in Pets

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At the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic, we’re no strangers to ear and skin issues. These types of problems often go hand in hand because the skin lining the external ear canal is the same as on the rest of the body. Ear problems in pets are quite common, but thankfully we are well equipped to handle them!

The Most Common Ear Problems in Pet

There are a handful of ear problems in pets that our team diagnoses more often than others, including:

Otitis externa — The external, skin-lined portion of the ear canal is prone to inflammation and infection in dogs and cats. Any irritation or inflammation such as from water, trauma, or seasonal allergic skin disease can set off trouble. Affected pets may have painful ears, shake or rub their heads, experience redness or odor, or have increased discharge from the ear.  If external ear infections are chronic, permanent changes can occur in the ear canal itself making subsequent problems more likely. 

Aural hematomas — When a blood vessel bursts within the layers of the flap of the ear, also called the pinna, a little pocket can form. These can be painful and irritating and do not often heal without help. An ear infection may be the underlying cause, and our team can diagnose this.

Ear mites — These unwelcome visitors are nearly microscopic mites that live in the ear canal, feasting on ear wax and causing irritation and discomfort along the way. 

Food allergies — Animals who have food allergies often experience chronic ear issues from the inflammation in the skin that results. 

Polyps — Cats especially are prone to growing polyps in the ear and oropharynx that can cause irritation, secondary infection, and balance problems if not treated. 

Caring for Your Pet’s Ears

The health of your pet’s ears is very important.  While not all ear problems in pets are entirely preventable, there are definitely some things that you can do to help their ears stay healthy.

Pay attention – By knowing your pet and what is normal for them, you improve your ability to catch ear problems early. Take time once a week to observe, taking note of any unusual odors or uncharacteristic behavior that might indicate pain or discomfort.

Keep that appointment – Routine wellness care is important in staying on top of ear care and helping to diagnose and discuss treatment of problems that may  contribute to ear problems such as endocrine diseases.

Ear problems in pets are common, but can usually be overcome. If your pet is having trouble, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Skin (and ear) problems happen to be our specialty, and we would be glad to help you and your pet.