The most common cause of infection cats and dogs is ear mites, which create a large amount of very dark brown itchy debris. Most ear mite treatments require multiple doses. Veterinarians carry options that are effective in just one – although the ears will need to be cleaned several times. Although cats are the natural host and carriers of ear mites, dogs can be affected too, so all contact pets should be treated.
Dogs, particularly floppy-eared ones, commonly get yeast and bacterial infections in their ears. This is generally an overgrowth of microorganisms that are normally present in low numbers in the ear canal; these are not directly contagious to other animals.
Some other causes of infections in dogs and cats are excess moisture in the ears (swimming, bathing, excessive grooming from another pet), and skin allergies.
Common signs to watch for:
Scratching or rubbing of ears and head Discharge in the ears Ear odor Redness or swelling of the ear canal Pain and tenderness around the ears Shaking of the head or tilting the head to one side Changes in behavior such as irritability and depression
Key points for ear health:
Have your veterinarian show you how to safely clean ears 1 – 2 times per month and after swimming/baths clean your pets’ ears to help prevent infections Check floppy ears at least once per week for any of the common signs listed above and contact your vet if any of those occur Only use pet ear cleaners or others as directed by your veterinarian, you may damage the ears with at-home remedies Check with your veterinarian about medications for ear infections