Pet Ear Infections and Preventing Deafness

One of the really common causes of hearing
loss in both cats and dogs would be chronic ear infections and some of the
causes of chronic ear infections would be underlying allergies is a very common one,
whether they be to food or something in your pet’s environment. Certainly dogs that do a lot of swimming
or get frequent baths are at higher risk of developing ear
infections. And some dogs, because of the way their anatomy is may be
predisposed to ear infections as well whether they have a lot hair growing down
their ear canal or it’s already very narrowed and what we would call Stenotic ear canal. Things you might notice in your pet if
they have an ear infection would be them potentially shaking their head. A lot of
cats and dogs both will scratch at their ears. A lot of times in cats people report that
they’re seeing blood on the outside of their cat’s ear from all the scratching. You might not actually notice your pet
scratching their ears and they might do it a little bit more subtly by dragging their
head either on the carpet or on some furniture. Abnormal discharge or an abnormal order
coming from their ears and also in dogs or cats where the
infection is actually penetrated through the ear canal into the middle or inner ear. You might also notice a tilt to their head as well as
potentially some abnormal movements of their eyes, and in some of these cats and dogs if
they’re really badly affected and their balance is thrown off they may go off
their food and they may also be vomiting. Chronic ear infections can lead to deafness
through a variety of mechanisms but one of the main ways that the ears respond
is they tend to get thicker, they lay down scar tissue and that’s going to prevent air from
flowing in circulating through the ears which is going to set up this vicious
cycle of the continued ear infection that’s gonna be much more difficult to
eradicate. And that it also increases the chances
that an infection will actually erode into the ear drum and penetrate inside
of the middle or the inner ear where it can directly affect the hearing apparatus
for your pet and lead to deafness. Not every ear infection is the same and
they can be caused by anything from bacteria or yeast or mites. You do want
to make sure that you know what you’re dealing with before you reach for that
bottle of medication that might be left over from the previous infection because it may not be effective in
treating the current infection and you may also wind up causing some hearing
loss in your pet as a result of that. Because if their ear drum isn’t
intact and you put down an antibiotic, a medication or cleaner
that can cause damage to the actual nerve that conducts the hearing, you’ve basically just caused hearing loss
in your pet. You might be tempted to just walk into the pet store and grab
something over-the-counter to start cleaning or medicating your pet’s ears. And while that might seem like an
attractive option because you’re going to save the cost of an exam and diagnostics at your
veterinarian, it’s not uncommon for that to wind up costing people more money in
the long run as well as prolonging pain and suffering
and infections for their pets. So in an ear that’s chronically infected
that can’t be treated medically anymore, often times the only option is to resort
to surgery, and while that can be very effective and
often times is the best course of action because it will eradicate your pet’s
source of pain and infection it’s also not inexpensive and without its own
complications. So it really is very important that at the first sign of an ear
infection you work with your veterinarian to start diagnosing and
treating that appropriately. If there’s problems in eradicating an infection,
look at the option of undergoing anesthesia to have it maybe cultured or flushed and also maybe involving a dermatologist in the work up. Equally important as once it’s been
diagnosed, it’s very important that you manager appropriately with your
veterinarian and following their instructions for
both cleaning and medicating for the duration of their treatment. When that treatment is over and they
recommend coming back in for a re-check on their pet’s ears, it’s very important
that you actually do that re-check because it’s not uncommon for signs of
the infection to have abated over the course of treatment but then for there to still be an
infection going on deeper down. It is very important to keep on the
lookout for these signs that I’ve described and then to get your pet in promptly
to the veterinarian to have it evaluated and do the follow-up as recommended.

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