Pet Scratching Ears: Why?
Though it seems a little thing, an extremely itchy ear can be frustrating for your dog or cat. When both ears are included, as is frequently the case, head-shaking and -scratching can mean a sleepless night for both you and your afflicted animal. Unbearable pain, in fact, is a not-uncommon long-term possibility for some animals.
The good news is that there’s hope– and help– for even the itchiest, most painful scenarios. The ease with which these issues can be dealt with, however, depends upon the cause. And though some may need just a round or two of topical medications before getting better, some causes of itchy ears demand a lifetime of management.
Causes of Itchy Ears in Dogs and Cats
Typical causes of itchy ears in family pets include:
1. Allergic skin disease. It’s a most likely reason for itchy ears in pets– dogs, especially– however the cycle’s the same for both canines and felines:
- The ears become inflamed in reaction to an allergen that’s been breathed in, soaked up, or ingested. The ears produce excess wax and other secretions.
- Organisms that enjoy heat and wetness grow happily in this environment– for this reason, the increase in yeast and bacteria.
- These organisms and their sediment induce higher inflammation and sometimes even an extra allergic action.
2. Yeast infections. Yeast infections are notoriously itchy. But nearly all yeast infections in pets are secondary to allergic skin disease. However, from time to time pets who are not suffering allergies can suffer yeast infections, provided the right conditions.
3. Ear termites. These very typical parasites are spiderlike and microscopic; they are unrelenting inside a pet’s ears and can make an animal unpleasant.
4. Other external parasites. Though ear mites are a typical reason for itchy ears, a lot of other parasites cause itchy ears, too. Mange mites as well as fleas and ticks can make the ears and head itch.
5. Foreign bodies. Often things that do not belong wind up in ears. Lawn awns, foxtails, and even littles cotton bud or paper towel left behind when you clean your family pet’s ears can lead to major itchiness and vigorous pawing and head-shaking.
6. Aural masses. Masses in the ear canal– such as polyps and malignant growths– will generally act just as any foreign body might.
7. Bacterial infections. Just like yeast, many bacterial infections of ear canals are secondary to other processes. Masses, foreign bodies, and allergic skin disease are likely to yield secondary bacterial infections.
How You Can Help My Pet at Home?
There are some things that family pet owners can do at home to assist keep the ear itchies at bay.
1. Inspect your animal’s ears weekly or more frequently if your vet suggests it. Look inside to be sure there’s nothing messing up the works. A smooth, shiny surface area with a fragile pink undertone is ideally what you’ll see. Bring any redness or discharge to your veterinarian’s attention.
2. Clean ears every week or more frequently if your vet suggests it. Some dogs and felines require daily ablutions to keep their ears clean, while others handle with no severe attention whatsoever. Nonetheless, it’s advised that all family pet owners erase their family pets’ ears at least once every couple of weeks.
3. Keep pets with hairy ears well groomed. Some dogs might even require the elimination of hairs that grow in the external ear canal. Others’ thick coats right away surrounding the ear canals may have to be clipped to permit drier conditions, especially during hotter weather condition or if water play is frequent.
4. Take your animal to a veterinarian at the first sign of discomfort– whether head-shaking, -pawing, or -scratching. Early intervention is the crucial to healing.
What Your Veterinarian May Do
When you take your animal to a vet for itchy ears, here are some of the things your doctor might do:
1. History. Many veterinarians will begin by asking a couple of questions to understand the history of the problem. When did you first discover it? Has it changed? How has your animal been otherwise? What do you typically do to look after your family pet’s ears? What medications or products do you use? Take the products with you so your vet can take a look.
2. Physical check. Examining the entire body, not simply the ears, is an important part of the process. The aural evaluation, using a hand-held otoscope, nevertheless, is the most crucial element of itchy ear evaluation.
3. Ear discharge analysis. Acquiring a sample of discharge from your family pet’s ears and looking at it under a microscope assists a veterinarian determine whether microscopic parasites and/or bacteria and yeast are involved in an ear’s itching.
4. Ear discharge culture and level of sensitivity screening. When a bacterial organism is determined (or is assumed based upon the qualities of the discharge), culturing the ear discharge is standard operating procedure. This tells your vet what type of bacteria live there and which antibiotic is best used to defeat it.
5. Anesthetic assessment. Regrettably, even the most brief assessment of the external ear canal is in some cases difficult due to copious amounts of debris in the ear canal and/or pain the pet is experiencing. In these cases, a vet will sedate or anesthetize the the dog or cat so that he can thoroughly evaluate the whole ear canal with an otoscope. Sedation also offers an opportunity to completely clean the ears of debris.
6. Ear canal cleansing. As part of a thorough examination of the ear canals, clearing them of all debris is necessary. As mentioned above, this can require sedation or anesthesia in reasonably to seriously impacted animals.
7. Biopsy. If there is apparently abnormal tissue a vet might recommend getting a small sample for submission to a diagnostic lab. Pathologists there examine the sample to identify its origins; this helps your veterinarian suggest the best treatment. This has the tendency to be the case when ear canal masses are involved.
8. Food trials. Dogs/cats with food allergic reactions can establish itchy ears and ear infections. If your veterinarian presumes your family pet might have a food allergic reaction, a food trial might be advised. Eliminating all however a couple of components in an animal’s diet for an amount of time can assist separate which proteins a family pet might be allergic to.
9. Allergy screening. Advanced skin or blood screening may be necessary to identify which allergens an animal may be responding to.
Treatment for Itchy Ears in Dogs and Cats
Treatment depends wholly on the underlying cause. It can range from the application of topical medication to eliminate parasites to long-lasting allergy treatment involving a multipronged technique with oral and/or topical therapy (at least in the short-term) and a limited diet and/or immunotherapy.