Primary Care

Ear Checks

Ear exams are part of a thorough physical examination and every wellness visit for our patients. There are several diseases and conditions associated with the ear that may necessitate your pet being evaluated between wellness visits specifically to check their ears. Clinical signs such as: head shaking, scratching and/or pawing at the ears, rubbing the ears on the floor or furniture, whining, sensitivity around their head/face, discharge from the ear, and abnormal odors originating from the ear are common indicators that your pet should be evaluated by your VCA veterinarian.

Conditions of the ear occur frequently in dogs and cats and result from a variety of causes. As with any other health issue, gathering a detailed history and performing an examination of the patient is critical in determining possible causes and underlying predisposing factors. This information will allow your veterinarian to accurately treat your pet’s ear issue, as well as help prevent recurrent ear issues in the future. Careful examination of the ear (ideally with an otoscope), visualizing the full length of the ear canal and the ear drum, and cytology samples of any ear discharge evaluated via microscope provide information important to the diagnosis and treatment of your pet’s ear condition.

Conditions of the ear can be extremely itchy, uncomfortable, and even painful for your pet. Because of the discomfort, some patients will require pain medication, sedation, or even full anesthesia to be properly evaluated and treated. Additional diagnostic tests are sometimes warranted. Conditions of the ear can also be chronic and recurrent, which is frustrating for both owners and veterinarians. If your pet suffers from recurring ear issues, they will likely require regular rechecks and veterinary visits to control secondary infection and identify underlying causes. Be prepared to work closely with your veterinarian so that you may achieve long-term management and comfort for your pet.