What you Need to Know About your Pet's Ears

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They’re often one of the cutest features of your pet: big, droopy ears, cute, pointy ears, ears that drag the ground. Your pet’s ears are adorable, and they’re also one of the most common sources of illness, as well. Fortunately, some basic maintenance should keep your pet’s ears healthy and nuzzleable for years to come.

Cleaning your Pet's Ears

Your pet’s regular grooming routine should include ear inspection and cleaning. Look for excessive dirt or wax, and clean your pet’s ear gently with a cotton ball and mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide. However, don’t try to clean your pet’s ears too often, as this can lead to infection and irritation of the sensitive inner ear. Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the proper process for cleaning your pet’s ear (as this may vary slightly by breed) and to suggest an ideal cleaning schedule.

Causes of Ear Health Issues

Be mindful of the causes of common ear problems that may affect your pet, and take steps to minimize your pet’s exposure to them. For example, excessive bathing can cause irritation and infection in the ear. Place a cotton ball in your dog’s outer ear during bath time to minimize the amount of water that it may be exposed to, and be sure to thoroughly dry the ears when your pet comes out of the bath.

If you have more than one pet at home, you may notice that they seem to enjoy licking each other’s ears. While this can be a sign of affection, allowing your pets to do this can lead to infections and other common ear problems. Discourage excessive ear licking by diverting your pets’ attention to other activities or toys instead.

Symptoms of Ear Problems

During your regular grooming routine, check your pet’s ears for signs of ear mites, infection, or irritation. Look for offensive odor, discharge, redness, swelling, and hair loss in and around the ear. Brown or black wax resembling coffee grounds can indicate the presence of ear mites. Your veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis and advise treatment for any of these conditions.

Your pet may also exhibit symptoms such as shaking her head excessively or scratching at her ears. This behavior may be particularly prevalent after bathing or swimming activities.

Treatment for Ear Problems

Always consult your veterinarian for guidance before attempting any home remedies, but many minor ear infections can be treated at home using simple ingredients.

  • Apply a warm compress to your pet’s ear several times a day to treat minor outer infections.
  • Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and use this solution to gently cleanse the ear of any obvious wax or infection.
  • Squeeze the contents of a vitamin E or cod liver oil capsule into your pet’s affected ear.
  • Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and witch hazel, and squeeze a few drops into the affected ear to reduce your pet’s discomfort.

Fortunately, ear conditions are easily manageable and preventable. As always, consult your veterinarian for the best course of treatment, and incorporate basic ear care into your pet’s grooming routine to keep those adorable ears clean and healthy for your pet’s entire lifetime.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.