Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats

Signs, Causes, Treatment Options and Prevention of Ear Infections

Please see the ear infection archive for additional articles on ears.

Ear infections are common problems for both dogs and cats. Common causes of ear problems in pets include parasites (ear mites), fungal, bacterial agents and foreign bodies (foxtails). Learn what to watch for and how to prevent ear infections in dogs and cats.

Please note: These articles have been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as...MORE possible.

  • 01 of 14
    Cat Ear Exam
    Cat Ear Exam. Getty - E+/numbeos

    Symptoms of ear infections will vary depending on the cause, but most cats will exhibit similar signs of itchy ears, scratching and shaking the head. Learn more about what to look for and the diagnostic tools veterinarians use to determine the cause of infection.

  • 02 of 14
    Dog Ear Exam
    Dog Ear Exam. Getty - Caiaimage/Robert Daly

    Odor, itchiness, and redness are usually the first signs of ear problems in dogs. Learn how to recognize ear problems and how ear infections are diagnosed.

  • 03 of 14
    Ear Mite debris in a cat ear
    Ear Mite debris in a cat ear. Wikimedia Commons/Uwe Gille

    Ear infections or inflammation in the ear canals (more properly termed otitis or otitis externa) are common complaints for cats, often caused by ear mites.

  • 04 of 14
    Vet examines a dog's ear
    Vet examines a dog's ear. Getty - Blend Images/LWA/Larry Williams

    In some cases, an ear infection in a dog may be easily treated and cured. However, in too many cases, these canine ear problems become chronic and difficult to treat.

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14
    Photo taken at 10x magnification through a microscope of an ear mite.
    Photo taken at 10x magnification through a microscope of an ear mite. CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

    Ear mites primarily live in the ear canal, where they feed on skin debris. Their presence causes inflammation, and can also lead to secondary ear infections.

  • 06 of 14

    Ear Hematomas in Dogs and Cats

    Swollen Dog Ear Aural Hematoma Seroma
    Swollen Dog Ear Aural Hematoma Seroma. " IMG_1379[1]" ( CC BY-ND 2.0) by maplegirlie

    Ear hematomas are when the ear flap (pinna) fills with blood, making the ear look like a small balloon. This condition is often seen with concurrent ear infections, but not always. Learn more about this common ear condition of both cats and dogs.

  • 07 of 14
    Cat and Vet
    Cat and Vet. Getty - E+/-Oxford-

    The proper treatment for an ear infection in a cat depends on diagnosing the cause of the ear infection. Ear mites are the most common cause of infections. However, other diseases can cause similar symptoms that will not respond to treatment for ear mites.

  • 08 of 14
    Vet Examining a Dogs Ear
    Vet Examining a Dogs Ear. Getty - Cultura/Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy

    Some canine ear infections respond very well to treatment and resolve quickly. Unfortunately, that is not the case with all canine ear infections. Many cases of otitis and ear infections in dogs are chronic and difficult to treat.

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    How to Clean Your Dog or Cat's Ears

    Some dogs and types of ears require more ear maintenance
    Some dogs and types of ears require more ear maintenance. Getty - Cultura/Leonora Saunders

    Regular routine cleaning of your dog or cat's ears is recommended as part of his grooming protocol. Regular cleaning will help keep your pet's ears healthy, clean and free of disease. You will also be equipped to notice any changes in the ear that warrant a visit to your veterinarian.

  • 10 of 14
    Dog Ear Exam
    Dog Ear Exam. Getty - E+/ DenGuy

    Dogs that have otitis and/or ear infections that are either neglected or not treated successfully can have a variety of potential complications.

  • 11 of 14
    Veterinarian examining a cat's ear
    Veterinarian examining a cat's ear. Getty - E+/Mark Chen

    There are a number of complications that may arise for cats with ear infections or other causes of otitis that are either neglected or are not resolved successfully.

  • 12 of 14
    Curious Dog
    Curious Dog. Getty - E+/Matteo De Stefano

    Some dogs are "low maintenance" where ears are concerned. Other dogs suffer from chronic or recurring ear infections. Regular ear cleanings and preventative maintenance will help keep your dog's ears healthy.

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14
    Cat Ear Exam
    Cat Ear Exam. Getty - E+/Henk Badenhorst

    Cleaning your cat's ears regularly will help you keep your cat's ears healthy. At the same time, it will give you the opportunity to examine your cat's ears for signs of disease.

  • 14 of 14

    FAQ: Ear Infections, Ear Mites and Aural Hematomas

    Dog Ear
    Dog Ear. Getty - The Image Bank / Sharon Montrose

    Itchy ears, scratching, shaking, and sometimes swollen ears are a common problem for dogs and cats, too. Here is an overview of Frequently Asked Questions about common ear conditions of cats and dogs.