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Why Dogs and Cats Get Ear Infections

By October 25, 2018Pet Care, Pet Health
Why Dogs and Cats Get Ear Infections

Most people only notice that their dog or cat has an ear infection when they see it constantly shaking its head and pawing at its ear. However, vets know that most ear problems have been brewing for quite some time. An ear infection (otitis) commonly begins in the outer ear, but, if left untreated, eventually the eardrum becomes porous, and the infection spreads to the inner ear.

Untreated Ear Infections

If the problem is not treated in the early stages or treated improperly, changes in the delicate lining of the ear canal can occur that sometimes persist for a pet’s lifetime. It’s often impossible to restore the ear canal lining to its normal condition once it’s been severely damaged. Here are some common causes of ear infections in dogs and cats.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are pin-head-sized parasites that most commonly affect puppies and kittens. During the first two months after birth, it’s difficult to spot these mites. However, by the third or fourth month, the inside of the ear will appear to be sprinkled with coffee grounds. The itchy stage will follow.

What is the Remedy for Ear Mites? – Traditional treatments involve putting medication in your pet’s ears daily for ten to thirty days depending on the product. A vet technician can demonstrate how to massage the medication down into the ear canal where the infection actually is. Missing a dose or two may result in your pet still having mites after you are “done” with the treatment. There are now newer medications that can kill ear mites with a single dose – ask your vet about these.

Floppy Ears

Dogs with floppy ears are prone to ear infections. Those adorable floppy ears provide poor air circulation within the ear canals causing humidity to build up and creating the perfect condition for infections to develop. Many floppy-eared dogs have hair growing within their ear canals which adds to the problem. Living in a humid climate and wet ears after swimming are two other risk factors.

How Can I Keep my Dog’s Ears Infection Free? – Use a liquid ear-cleaning antifungal/antibacterial product. Several drops massaged deep into the ear canals on a weekly basis or after swimming can help keep ears infection-free. If your dog has persistent infection flare-ups, your vet will prescribe an appropriate medication. One of the dangers of not vigorously treating flare-ups is the development of ear hematomas.


Ear problems often affect pets with allergies because the ears itch along with the skin. The ears itch, the pet scratches, and infection sets in. Pinpointing what a pet is allergic to is a job for your vet.

Effective treatments are dependent upon what the allergen is and may include strict flea control, dietary management, or keeping the pet away from damp moldy areas. In hard-to-cure cases, periodic applications of ear medications may be necessary.


If you suspect that your dog or cat as an ear infection take him to your regular vet. If, however, you have a dog or cat that unfortunately ends up in some kind of emergency situation and you live in the Columbia South Carolina area, don’t hesitate to bring them to CVETS for state-of-the-art emergency treatment.