One part of the body that is often overlooked when it comes to healthcare and grooming, are the ears. Some are long and pointy and easily accessible, while others are small, folded over or altogether difficult to peer into. The reality is, with the abundance of nails that need trimming, coats that need combing, washing and cutting, paws
that need buffing, and teeth that need brushing, the ears are just under-prioritized.
Though a dog or cat might paw at or itch his ears from time to time, we seldom have any concern about whether or not the ears are in fine working order. However, here are some reasons why ear care should become a regular part of your cat or dog’s health and beauty regimen.
Why You Should Clean Your Pet’s Ears
Ears get filthy. It might be tough to imagine, but ears actually can become a festering storehouse of germs, bacteria and grime that if undealt with can become a serious problem. Before cleaning the ear, if you inspect it closely, you might see ear mites, irritated skin, swelling, redness, discharge, or waxy build up (which sometimes looks like coffee grounds) in and around the center of the ear.
Cleaning keeps away infections. The skin of a pet’s ears secrete oil which mixing with the dead skin cells becomes ear wax. This wax functions to keep the eardrum moist, sound-sensitive, and also protects the ear from any dust or dirt that would clog it. However, if an ear is not ever cleaned, or it gets infected, then the wax can harden and become problematic. Dogs and cats are most likely to get ear infections when water, and dirt particles or contaminants get trapped inside. This usually happens after a bath, a romp in the sprinklers, or getting caught in the rain. The trapped moisture in the ear causes germs to grow, and resulting in swelling, itchiness, agitation, and smelly discharge, etc.
Ear cleaning diminishes foul odors. Infection usually results in a stench that can be overpowering. About 20% of dogs (and 4% of cats, the cleanlier species) will get an ear infection at some point in their lives. These animals may also experience a foul fragrance while the bacteria grows in the ears, causing an overall increase to the pungent body odor of their pet.
Clean ears help pets hear better. Pet parents who fail to wipe their cat or dog’s ears can cause the wax to harden and collect, sinking more deeply into the ear canal making it not only tough for the pet to hear but also challenging for the pet owner to remove. If an infection were to occur, the skin in the ear canal would swell up, tightening the receptive passageway to the ear drums, which will also make hearing more “foggy” for the animal. Since animals rely heavily on their ability to detect sounds and distances through their ears, losing accuracy in their hearing is a sore trial.
Note: One important word of caution is that the ears should not be cleaned too frequently. If they do, the skin can become dry, flakey, itchy and become more susceptible to infection. Some grooming habits (like tooth brushing, and fur-combing) ought to be done every day, but a once-a-week ear care session should be sufficient to keep your dog or cat’s ears in good condition.