Common Causes of Ear Scratching

There are many different causes of itching in dog ears. These can include both medical and non-medical causes. Dogs like humans are all very different and can react to different triggers and therefore something that causes one dog scratch their ears may not have the same effect on another. Some of the common causes are as discussed below.
Ear mites
Ear mites are known to thrive in dog ears because they feed off on the wax. Mites infest both the horizontal and vertical canals and are known to cause great irritation which makes the ears of the host pet very itchy. If left untreated could lead to serious consequences such as hearing loss. Once inside a dog’s ear, they will cause them misery. A dog that has ear mites will scratch relentlessly. Mites can be treated with medicated powders. Be careful not to apply too much powder as this can fall into the canal and can cause a blockage, less is more.
Scratching Behind the Ears Caused by External Parasites
Apart from mites external parasites can also be a cause of ear scratching. These include ticks and fleas. Ticks will affect different parts of the ear with the part behind the ears being most vulnerable to ticks. Fleas are known to cause a lot of itching in dogs and it’s common for animals to have allergic reactions to them. Always ensure you examine for fleas & ticks on a regular basis.
Allergic Reactions
When a dog is having allergic reactions to something their ear flaps may become inflamed. This form of scratching may result from allergens that have been inhaled or absorbed leading to the dog’s immune system fighting the reaction. During this reaction there is excess wax production plus other secretions. This causes a favourable environment for the growth of bacteria and yeast. With both of these organisms present there is greater inflammation leading to an on going cycle of itchy ears until the allergens are eliminated or the reaction suppressed. It’s common for diet to play a big part in allergies so consider if there may be something in the diet causing the problem.
Yeast and Bacterial Infections
Yeast infections can be a secondary effect of allergic reactions although this is not always the case and at times there are just the right environmental conditions for yeast or bacteria to thrive even where there no allergens are present. As with yeast infections, bacterial infections are usually secondary effects of allergic reactions. They can however occur independently and are notoriously itchy.
Foreign Bodies Causing Itchy Dog Ears
Dogs can get all sorts of strange items in their ears including grass seeds, stones, bits of cotton pads from cleaning are some of the things that could cause itchy ears. It’s common to see a dog vigorous scratching its ears, shaking of the head and pawing. Sometimes these objects can be removed at home with a pair of tweezers’, be careful not to poke the offending item further into the canal. If in doubt a vet will be able to remove in seconds.
Dry Ears
When a dog has dry skin, they can become easily inflamed and have flaky skin within the inner ear. This may be caused by environmental factors, nutritive deficiency and products used in cleaning. Dry skin can be treated with a moisture enriching neem based cream.
How to Prevent Ear Scratching
Examining the ears daily as a preventative measure is key to healthy ears. A normal ear canal will have a smooth shiny surface. To avoid wax build up any potential itch, clean ears at least once in a week. Some pets and especially those with allergies require daily ear cleaning and weekly flush to keep their ears itch free. Cleaning ears on a regular basis will reduce the chances of infections, itch and scratching. Dogs with hairy ear canals require grooming and maintenance especially during hot weather. Dogs that like to swim are prone to otitis externa, similar to swimmers ear in humans. Some dogs will tolerate earplugs but not all. After a dog has been in water it’s important to clean the ears with a solution of blend of organic apple cider vinegar or white vinegar & sterile water. Vinegar also serves as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent, and balances the ear’s pH to prevent yeast.
Natural Antihistamines
When the cause of ear itch is allergies you will notice the ear flap will appear red and inflamed before the onset of the itch. The dog may rub their ears on walls, scratch constantly. With this kind of itch, antihistamines can be used to combat it. The histamine will act as a mediator of the inflammation and works by blocking the trigger of the inflammation. Camomile is a natural antihistamine and a cold pre-soaked camomile tea bag can work wonders on an itchy ear.
Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar
Vinegar contains antiseptic properties which allow it to effectively fight bacterial and yeast infections in dog ears. This remedy is acidic, it alters the pH in the ear. Since bacteria and yeast thrive most in alkaline environments, the change hinders their growth. To use dilute apple cider vinegar or white vinegar with an equal portion of water. Use a dropper or a syringe to administer up to 50 millilitres in to the dog’s ear canal. Once done, use a clean piece of cloth to wipe off any residue as well as dry the ear. Repeat the procedure each day for seven days. Be mindful if a dog has broken skin then vinegar will sting and can cause further scratching.
When to See a Vet
There may be times when home treatments and preventive measures for ear scratching may not be enough. If your dog continues to have itchy ears your dog may continue to have itchy ears and I recommend a quick check up if the following symptoms or signs are present. Intense scratching till bleeding, Bloody, yellow or brown ear discharge, Hair loss and raw flesh around the ears, Shaking or tilting of the head while scratching, Loss of balance and coordination & Hearing loss
BB Herbal has a wide range of natural ear products that can be used to prevent ear problems.

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