WHY DO DOGS SCRATCH THEIR EARS – THAT SCRATCHY EAR?

Hello Dear Pet Parents, it’s been a while since my last post. The last few months have been stressful for us as pet parents and even for our pets. But I’m back now, and this time I wanted to share with you some very useful information about why do dogs scratch their ears. It might seem nonchalant to us, but it could be due to serious reasons. So, pay attention.

We often see our pets scratching or shaking their ears quite frequently. Most dogs will shake to relieve minor itches or irritation; however, if head-shaking persists and becomes excessive, it should be a cause for concern. A close examination reveals immense wax deposition and inflammation in the ear.

Why do Dogs Scratch Their Ears

Pet parents, this is nothing but a symptom of Otitis externa, meaning inflammation of the ear. Otitis externa may be acute or chronic (persistent or recurrent otitis lasting for 3 months or longer). If left untreated, it may lead to deafness, eardrum rupture, complicated infections and injury, or illnesses. With otitis externa, the ears may look red and swollen and become hypersensitive to touch. The pet may experience relief or pain when you massage their ears.

Otitis externa

Otitis externa is very common in pets and as a Vet, I have experienced that many pet owners overlook this peculiar symptom and restrict to home measures of cleaning the ear with earbuds or any other home remedy. Dear Pet Parents DON’T DO THIS!

Cleaning the ear with earbuds often predisposes your lap baby to more severe ear infections than you can imagine.

Why do Dogs Scratch Their Ears

A Dog’s Ear

Dogs are more prone to ear infections than any other species, partially because of their conformation. The ear canal of a dog has a steep vertical portion and then a horizontal portion, almost creating the shape of the letter “L”. This peculiar shape of the ear canal makes it difficult for wax, oil, and other secretions to exit the canal and which in turn, gets accumulated. Prolonged presence of this organic material creates an environment that enhances the growth of the otherwise small amount of yeast and bacteria that normally reside in the ear canal.

Ear mites, allergies (to food, fleas, pollen, etc.), tumours of the ear canal, endocrine disorders (such as hypothyroidism), and foreign material in the canals predispose the ear to inflammation and increase waxy discharge, which contributes to an increase in local humidity and pH of the external ear canal, further generating a conducive environment for the infections to set in.

The key to a healthy dog ear rests on a regular vigilance as well as keeping your furry babies ears dry and clean or else, they may face recurrent ear infections which will be difficult to treat.

Recommendations

I’m sharing some recommended basics with all you PAWPARENTS

  • Your Furr balls’ ears should be cleaned at least once a month, more often if your dog is prone to ear problems.
  • A SNEAK PEEK can be more than what the ear exposes.
  • Check for dirt, scratches, parasites, excessive wax or discharge.
  • YOU BABIES SNIFF SO CAN YOU.
  • Working up a bit and give them a good sniff and Sniff around the scratchy ear for all that unpleasant odour.
  • Moisten a cotton ball with mineral oil or normal saline and gently wipe out the ears, going no deeper than the first knuckle on your finger.
  • Overcleaning can lead to maceration of the epithelium, preventing the restoration of the self-cleaning mechanism and so perpetuating the otitis.
  • If your dog’s ear is difficult to clean or if it contains a lot of packed debris. It may need to be flushed. At times, an anaesthetic is required to perform this procedure. The Vet is the solution.

Why do Dogs Scratch Their Ears

A Few Final Words

So, PAW PARENTS, it is mandatory to have your dog evaluated if he or she is showing signs of an ear infection. Follow your vet’s treatment recommendations regarding the length of treatment and medications. Effective treatment early in the disease process and identification of the underlying cause will provide the best outcome for your dog and make it SCRATCH FREE!

We hope you found the above information useful about why do dogs scratch their ears. Please do share any other information that I might have missed that you might know of or your personal experiences or questions regarding why do dogs scratch their ears with us in the comments section below.

We hope you will visit our blog regularly and find our posts and articles useful. Do send us your suggestions on what you would like us to write about in our future blogs. We look forward to healthy participation from the Petofy community. Please do leave your comments and queries in the comments section and we will try our best to answer them to the best of our ability.

Wish you a great day ahead and lots of love to the lovely pets everywhere. Stay safe.

-Dr. Meenal Bhardwaj
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