Symptoms and Causes:

Photo by Becky Gregory
The sense of hearing is very well developed in dogs and cats, provided the ears are healthy. Up to 20 percent of all dogs and up to seven percent of cats suffer from otitis externa, an inflammation of the ear canal. Scratching the ear and the shaking the head are the first indications of otitis. Also, brown deposits in the ear can be seen by the naked eye. There can also be a foul smell, redness and swelling.

If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms you should consult a veterinarian. It is important to diagnose an ear infection as early as possible. Appropriate treatments will act very fast and you protect your pets from unnecessary pain.

Parasites, mostly mites, allergies or foreign bodies are the most common trigger of an ear infection. Once the natural immune system of an inflamed ear is disturbed, bacteria, fungi or yeasts will multiply rapidly if unchecked. If left untreated, it can spread to the middle or inner ear causing more severe problems.

Particularly affected are often animals with a lot of fur in the ear canal, for example, the Poodle, or the Abyssinian cat. Even dogs with an ear position which favors the accumulation of earwax suffer more frequently from ear infections.

What should you do:

Pet owners should check the ears of dogs and cats regularly. Only use cleaning products on the ear that are specifically designed for this purpose. Cotton swabs should never be used on dogs or cats!

Inflamed ears must be treated by the vet. Only he or she can diagnose the cause of inflammation and then initiate the appropriate therapy. The pet owner can then continue the treatment at home until the veterinarian has carried out a final inspection. If the vet doesn't do this final check-up, a tiny amount of mites or bacteria could have remained and they will have no problems reproducing again to create another infection.


There are some actions you can take to prevent this from happening. If your dog or cat repeatedly gets ear infections, use blunt-tipped scissors to trim the hair in their ears. This will allow more air to flow around the ears. If you're uncomfortable doing this there are pet groomers who can do this for you.

If you see that your dog gets infections often after swimming in natural waters, you'll have to reduce the swimming to a minimum. If your dog can't stay away from the water, keep a blend of organic apple cider vinegar with water handy and clean its ears as soon as he's shaken the water out.