Ear wax buildup in dogs

April 13, 2012

Dogs are very affectionate animals. These pets would always love to be touched – to be petted. Dogs would be ecstatic if the belly is rubbed and the head petted. Dogs love getting the ears scratched. Does your dog purrs like a cat when you scratched its ears? Or does your dog shy away from your hand when you try to scratch the ears? The dog may have infected ears. An unpleasant odor and excessive ear wax build up are signs that all is not well with the pet’s ears. The pet will be seen scratching the itchy ear, shaking and rubbing the head against furniture in an effort to dislodge the excess ear wax.

Ear wax build up is not uncommon in dogs. Ear wax or cerumen is a substance that naturally develops in the dog’s ears. Ear wax is a mixture of ear debris, sweat and dead skin. Excessive ear wax buildup can make the dog uncomfortable because of the itch. However, ear wax has a very important function. This naturally occurring substance filters dust and prevents small insects and foreign objects from entering the ears thus infection to the inner part of the ears and to the ear drums are prevented. Some breeds are known to produce excessive ear wax. Labradors and other floppy eared retrievers that spend a lot of time in water to hunt would benefit from excessive ear wax buildup. The soft dark brown wax protects the ears while the dog is in the water. Long eared dogs like Basset hounds produce extra amounts of ear wax as the skin inside the ears are rarely exposed to air circulation. Normal amount of ear wax is healthy but excessive production of this substance can result to infections as excess ear wax will keep the inner ear moist and encourage the growth of bacteria. Moreover, excessive ear wax can block the ear canal and hamper the hearing ability of the pet. Next to the sense of smell, hearing is a very important sense of a dog.

Ear problem is common in dogs. Dog owners would usually take the pet to the vet because of ear infection. Excessive ear wax production, foul smell emanating from the ears and the obvious discomfort of the pet are the first signs that an owner will notice if the dog has ear problems. Excessive build up of wax can be caused by infected wax glands in the dog’s ears. Inflamed ceruminous glands will discharge more ear wax. Dog owners are warned against removing the ear wax from the inner ear to prevent the ear canals from being injured. Only ear wax that can be seen must be removed. Ears are self cleaning. Ear wax is normally dislodged. A dog owner will notice ear wax clinging to the hair inside the dog’s ears. Ear wax may also be noticed on the sleeping area of the dog as the pet normally removes the wax by shaking the ears. However, ear wax will build up if it is abnormally secreted too far into the ear canal so that natural drainage is hampered.

Ear mite infestation is another cause for excessive ear wax production. Ear mites are microscopic spider-like arthropods that cause severe itching. These parasites live off the fluid and ear wax. The movements of these parasites, the feeding as well as the excrements would produce an allergic reaction that will trigger excessive ear wax production to provide more food for the parasites. The coffee-ground like waxy substance that appears to be ear wax are actually ear mites, ear mite eggs and droppings. Excessive ear wax build up, although non-life threatening can make the pet very uncomfortable. It would be best to have the dog checked by a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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