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12/16/2009 16:42:43 PM by Dr.Greg   Send Message to Dr.Greg  2544  views, category: Pet care, safety and insurance view all blogs

One of the few common medical problems dogs and cats share equally are gooey, red, painfully itchy ears. This unpleasant condition causes both species to shake their head and scratch at their ears, which unfortunately often only makes them worse.


A pain in the ear

The ear mite is the main cause of ear problems in cats and sometimes in very young puppies. Usually kittens are affected, but some older cats are chronically infected with mites and itchy ears…you’ll see black gunky wax in the ear canal. You can clear the ear with warm water, followed by a bit of mineral oil to kill the pesky mites. A topical flea treatment safe for cats and effective for mites can be applied monthly for two months to ensure that the mites and their hatchlings don’t return.

Ticks and grasses can lodge themselves in an animal’s ear. To make them more comfortable you can immobilize ticks and soften grass awns (the spiked processes on wild grasses) with a bit of mineral oil or warm soapy water.Then you can make an appointment with your vet the next day.


Painful ears—an allergic reaction

Just as with humans, dogs and cats can be allergic to the world around them, and their ears are often the first indicator. Allergens range from pollens, molds and grasses (environmental) to wheat, corn and beef (the three most common ingredients in pet food and treats). Changes in the season or food or treats can make the ears red, swollen, gooey, and painful.

If you are faced with this situation after hours or on the weekend when your vet is closed, you can treat your best friend by using warm water and a bit of mild shampoo to clean out the ears, followed by a 1:10 mixture of vinegar to warm water. For further relief, you can give your cat or dog Claritin. The dosage is based on the animal’s weight: Less than 10 pounds, give half (1/2) a tablet; more than 10 pounds, give 1 tablet. Also rub a little cortisone cream inside the ear. Finally, dogs can also be given adult aspirin (1 pill per 30 pounds weight). Cats CANNOT be given over-the-counter pain medications.

While you can treat the symptoms of an allergic reaction, you can also try to get to the source of the problem. As I indicated above, wheat, corn and beef are the common sources of food allergies. Try cutting these ingredients from your dog or cat’s diet. Also try increasing the omega oils in their diet. One fish oil capsule or one teaspoon to tablespoon of Canola oil daily will sometimes help the ears and skin become healthier. My book Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog’s Health will teach you how to identify food allergens and make healthful substitutions.

About the author: I love animals and their bond with us. My new book Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog's Health is out and available on my website ( ). I have been an animal lover my whole life. As a teenager, I worked at a pet sh... more >>

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