LIS­TEN UP PET OWN­ERS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - EYE | PETS - WORDS: DR MARK REEVE Dr Mark Reeve is a mem­ber of the Aus­tralian Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion

I spend about 10 per cent of my time look­ing at ears — cat ears, dog ears, tall ears and floppy ears. For such a small part of your pet’s body, they can cer­tainly be a prob­lem area.

I al­ways thought that one of the rea­sons vet­eri­nar­i­ans treat so many ear prob­lems is be­cause it’s very easy for pets to show their own­ers when they are hav­ing prob­lems — they will shake their head, scratch their ears and maybe even rub their head along the ground. Un­well ears will also start to smell re­ally fast.

Dur­ing the warmer months, the most com­mon ear-re­lated prob­lems that I see tend to be some sort of for­eign ma­te­rial get­ting stuck in one or both of the ears.

Most of­ten, it will be a grass seed, but vet­eri­nar­i­ans have many sto­ries of amaz­ing things they have found. For me per­son­ally, I have had to treat cases of dead flies or pieces of stick — and lots and lots of grass seeds that have be­come lodged in the ears. If a pet’s ear prob­lem is re­lated to a for­eign ob­ject, about half the time I can look down their ear and find the cause of the is­sue. The other half of the time, I will need to give the pet heavy se­da­tion or a gen­eral anaes­thetic to re­move the for­eign ma­te­rial.

I of­ten pre­fer ex­am­in­ing ears when a pet is asleep be­cause I can have a very thor­ough look and en­sure noth­ing is missed. The ear canal is also a very sen­si­tive area and it’s the last place you want to be us­ing a pair of for­ceps if you’re wrestling with a dog or cat.

All year round I see some cats and lots of dogs with ear in­fec­tions and most are due to the over­growth of the yeast that nor­mally lives in the canal.

How­ever, some­times pets will also get bac­te­rial in­fec­tions and, due to the shape of their ears, they can be re­ally dif­fi­cult to treat. Of­ten we have to clean out the ear while the pet is un­der an anaes­thetic.

Some­times when I look down the ear of a pet that is shak­ing its head, I find other prob­lems such as ear canal tu­mours. A lot of cats will get polyps — which are be­nign growths in their ear canal — and while these are not go­ing to spread, they cause on­go­ing chronic in­fec­tions in the ear. Dogs, un­for­tu­nately, can get can­cer­ous growths in the ear and these can re­quire quite rad­i­cal surg­eries to re­move.

As I say in a lot of my col­umns, don’t ig­nore what your pet is telling you — the ear­lier we pick it up the bet­ter.

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