World Hearing Day
PDSA tips on dealing with ear problems in pets
Wednesday 3 March is World Hearing Day – a day to raise awareness of the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss.
As with humans, our pets can also suffer from hearing loss as they age, and in many cases this is unpreventable. However, in some cases prolonged ear infections and poor ear health can cause premature hearing loss. Our pets can’t always tell us something is wrong, so PDSA advises owners to be extra vigilant and know what signs to look out for.
PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “Ear conditions can be very painful for pets. Look out for signs such as head shaking, excessive scratching at their ears, red or swollen ears, a buildup of ear wax or a bad smell. Inner ear problems can result in head tilt or loss of balance. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your pet to a vet as soon as possible.
“Additionally, certain types of pets can be more susceptible to ear problems, for instance, dogs with skin allergies, narrowed ear canals or floppy outer ears, or those with large amounts of hair growth within the ear canal.”
Your vet may advise regular ear cleaning for your pets, especially if they are prone to infections. Here’s Olivia’s step-by-step guide, to help keep your four-legged friend’s ears in tip top condition:
- Step 1 – tools. You’ll need cotton wool (not buds), a pet safe ear cleaner and gloves. You might need a second person to help you keep your pet still!
- Step 2 – check for any nasties. Before you clean your pet’s ears, check for any redness or discharge. A small amount of light brown to clear yellow wax is normal, but lots of dark brown wax, yellow crusty discharge, pus or a nasty smell could all be signs of an infection. Get them checked by a vet, but wait until any inflammation has reduced before cleaning or this could be painful.
- Step 3 – ear cleaner. Gently lift your pet’s ear flap and insert the nozzle into their ear, being careful not to push the bottle too far in. Squeeze a few drops of the ear cleaner inside the ear canal. Let go of their ear flap and using your fingers, massage firmly over their ear canal. You may hear a few squelching noises as the cleaner moves around and the wax is loosened. Your dog will probably want to shake their head after that – let them! This will help bring material from deep in the ears to the surface.
- Step 4 – wipe. With your cotton wool around your finger, gently wipe all the wax and excess cleaner from the outer part of your dog’s ear. Your finger is too big to fit too far into the ear canal, but don’t put anything else (like cotton buds) in as this could cause damage.
- Step 5 – repeat on the other side! If you need any extra help, watch our video to make sure you have the right technique. Your vet or vet nurse will also be happy to give you advice and tips on cleaning your pet’s ears.
Olivia adds: “If you notice any signs of ear infection, or are worried your pet’s hearing has changed, it’s important to get to the vet as soon as possible. Over the counter treatments might seem to ease the symptoms in the short term, but they may not solve the underlying issue and could even make the problem worse, depending on the cause.”
For more tips on cleaning your pet’s ears, go to www.pdsa.org.uk/earproblems
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk.