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Itchy ears - cats and dogs ear scratching

Pets sometimes scratch themselves and that’s completely normal. However, some pets will incessantly paw at their ears and shake their head and this is often an indication of some form or irritation in the ear. Itchy, irritated years are an extremely common problem in pets and it’s heartbreak to see our furry friends in such discomfort. The ears are incredibly sensitive and there are a number of different causes and factors which can cause irritation here. We’ve compiled a list of the most common causes of ear problems in dogs, and provided a mini help guide on how to protect against problem and provide relief if you do notice any discomfort in your pets ears.

Sometimes a simple clean of the ears will relive the irritation, but irritation can also be caused by a number of different and we do always recommend seeking out a professional diagnosis from your vet to rule out any serious underlying conditions. Below we have provided a list of some of the common causes of itchy ears in pets.

Allergic skin disease

A very common cause of itchy ears in pets. Managing your pets allergies are the best way to help here. Avoiding certain foods and products which your animal is sensitive will stop any flare ups from happening in the first place.

However, this is often much easier said than done so it’s a good idea to have something on hand which can soothe the symptoms of allergies should any flare ups occur. Similarly, anti-histamines can be used to protect against any flare ups.

Yeast infections

Yeast infections are notoriously itchy. These usually stem from allergies but pets who are not suffering from yeast infections can also be affected.

If these infection does stem from an allergy then again, managing the allergy is the best option here. Anti-fungal ear drops will also work to combat the yeast and soothe any irritation that this may have caused.

Bacterial infections

As with yeast, most bacterial infections of ear canals are secondary to other processes. Masses, foreign bodies, and allergic skin disease are likely to yield secondary bacterial infections.
Regular cleaning with an anti-bacterial ear cleaner and good ear hygiene are important to help prevent infections from developing.

Ear mites

These extremely common parasites are spiderlike and microscopic; they cause real irritation and discomfort inside a pet’s ears.

Using a natural insect repellent on your pet’s coat will protect them against fleas, lice, mites and other parasites which can enter the ear and cause irritation.

Other external parasites

Though ear mites are a common cause of itchy ears, plenty of other parasites cause itchy ears, too. Mange mites and even fleas and ticks can make the ears and head itch.

Again, using a natural insect repellent spray will work to repel any parasites which can irritate the ears.

Foreign bodies

Sometimes things that don’t belong end up in ears. Grass awns, foxtails, and even bits of cotton swab or paper towel left behind when you clean your pet’s ears can lead to serious itchiness and head-shaking.

Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears will remove any dirt and foreign bodies which could cause infection, and any allergens which may irritated the ears. Just remember to be extra gentle as the ears are incredibly sensitive and you don’t want to leave anything else behind. Avoiding long grass can also help to prevent problems as grass seeds can become stuck in the ear and this is a common cause of ear problems, particularly in dogs. Avoiding longer grass can help to avoid this from happening.

Aural masses

Masses in the ear canal — such as polyps and cancerous tumors — will typically act just as any foreign body might.

If the usual general care methods don’t help then it’s important to seek out a professional diagnosis from a vet as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Most of these problems can be prevented, stopped or brought under control relatively easily using simple home steps such as those outlined above and it shouldn’t be long until you have a happy, itch-free pet again! However, if you feel you are struggling to see an improvement then it is important to visit your vet for a professional diagnosis in order to rule out any serious underlying problems.

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