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Ear infections are common problems in dogs and cats. In general dogs get ear infections more often than cats. Ear infections can be a cause of serious discomfort and pain to your pets and if left untreated lead to permanent damages to the ear and deafness. A number of factors contribute to ear infections in dogs and cats.
Causes of ear infection
Bacteria and fungi
Bacterial and fungal infections (yeast) are often the most common causes of ear infections. While bacterial infections may be a primary or secondary cause of ear infection, yeast infections often result as a secondary infection. Common examples of bacteria causing ear infection are Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas. A common example of a yeast causing ear infection is Malassezia.
Otodectes cynotis is the most common ear mite of dogs and cats. Compared to dogs, cats are more commonly affected. Transmission occurs through casual contact at home or outside. This mite feeds on the oils and wax in your pet’s ear canal. Due to its miniature size, it is barely visible to the naked eyes. Ear mites can infect both the internal and external canals of the ears. Infection is often characterized by a dark coffee like discharge from the ear that can result in complete obstruction of the ear canal.
Bits of grasses, thorns and other plants inside your pet’s ears can lead to ear infections.
Dogs prone to allergies are susceptible to ear conditions. If the underlying cause of ear problem in your dog is allergy, just treating the ear infections won’t resolve the problem.
Diseases such as feline AIDS
Breed and ear shape/anatomy
Dog breeds with non-erect ears (e.g. Hounds Spaniels, Beagles, spaniels, retrievers) and those with hairy inner ear flaps/ear canals (e.g. Poodles) are more susceptible to ear infections. Ear environment in these breeds suffer poor air circulation, retention of moisture and trap allergens from the environment more easily. Often the moist warm ear environment is favorable for organism causing infections to flourish.
Types of ear infection
Inflammation or infection of the ear is called otitis. Depending upon the parts of the ear where it occurs, ear infection can be of the following three types.
Preventative measures for ear infection
Ear conditions generally have an underlying cause and the problem often reoccurs if treatment is done only for the ear inflammation and infection. Some preventative measures for ear infections in pets include: