A DOG or cat who presents with itchy sore ears is one of the most common conditions we treat in the veterinary clinic. Inflammation of the ear, also known as otitis, can present in many different ways depending on what structures of the ear are affected. The ear is made up of three sections: the external ear, the middle ear and the internal ear. Most commonly the external ear is the part that becomes inflamed and itchy. Signs of inflammation in this area include: itchiness, painful ears, head shaking, and smelly ears which may have visible discharge. When the internal ear becomes inflamed, deafness and neurological signs may also occur. Inflammation of the ear can eventually lead to an ear infection, which predominantly are due to bacterial or fungal organisms. You may notice that some dogs and cats get ear infections more often than others. That is because there are predisposing factors as well as primary causes for ear infections. Predisposing factors include: long hairy ears, dogs that swim, narrow ear canals. Causes of inflammation that lead to infection includes: grass seeds, skin allergies and ear mites. All these factors can alone or in combination can produce an ear infection. Ear infections can be a very uncomfortable and stressful experience for your pet. So if you suspect that your dog or cat’s ears need attending to, a consult with your local veterinarian is recommended. At the clinic, a thorough assessment of the ear can take place. This may include careful examination of the ear with an otoscope and swabbing the ear for debris to further investigate infection. A treatment plan is then developed which may involve ear medications, or a procedure to clean and treat the ear at the clinic. Preventative strategies can then be formulated to prevent further infections. Contact your local clinic for more details.