Ear and Eye Infections

Can my pet get ear and eye infections?

Ear and eye infections are common in both dogs and cats. Ear infections are more common in dogs, while eye infections, also known as conjunctivitis, are more common in cats.


Ear infections in cats

Ear mites cause most ear infections in cats. Ear mites in cats are contagious but are easy to treat. They usually look like coffee grounds in a cat’s ears. They may cause the cat to shake its head or scratch its ears.

Treatment of ear infections in cats

Your veterinarian can swab your cat’s ear to determine if the animal has ear mites. Your vet will clean your cat’s ears and give you medication to rid the pet of ear mites. Treatment may need to be continued for several weeks to eliminate the ear mite infestation.

Ear infections in dogs

Yeast infections cause most ear infections in dogs. They occur most often in dogs with long, floppy ears (such as hounds and cocker spaniels) because yeast grows in warm, moist environments. Air cannot penetrate through floppy ears, keeping the ears warm and moist. Because dogs that enjoy swimming (like retrievers) also tend to have moist ears, yeast infections are also common in water dogs. Dogs that are prone to allergies (such as food or environmental allergies) are also more prone to ear infections.

Treatment of ear infections in dogs

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, see your veterinarian right away to start medication. Simple ear infections that are left untreated can worsen and turn into bacterial infections. Bacterial infections are much more difficult to treat. Chronic ear infections can cause damage and thickening of the ear canal, making dogs even more prone to ear infections in the future.

Prevention of ear infections in dogs

You can purchase a variety of effective ear cleaners from your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian for an ear cleaner containing a drying agent. This will help evaporate the liquid in the cleaner quickly so it does not sit in the dog’s ear canal. Make sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly. Cleaning a dog’s ears regularly can help prevent ear infections, especially in dogs that are prone to them.


Eye infections in cats

Cats tend to get viral eye infections. Viral eye infections, or viral conjunctivitis, are contagious. Several viruses cause upper respiratory infections in cats that can also cause conjunctivitis.

The most common viral cause of upper respiratory infections and eye infections in cats is feline herpesvirus. Just like the various forms of human herpesvirus, once a cat has feline herpesvirus it has the virus forever. Some estimates suggest as many as 80 percent of all cats in the U.S. carry feline herpesvirus. When a cat is stressed or sick, the virus can recur, causing symptoms ranging from mild sneezing and nasal discharge to a full blown upper respiratory infection and eye infection.

Treatment of eye infections in cats

Conjunctivitis in cats is typically treated with topical and oral antibiotics. Anti-viral medications and immune stimulators are also sometimes used in the treatment. If your cat has conjunctivitis it is best to seek veterinary treatment quickly to get the infection under control. Left untreated, severe cases of conjunctivitis may lead to corneal ulcers and permanent scarring in the cat’s eyes.

Prevention of eye infections in cats

Make sure to take your cat to a veterinarian to ensure your cat is vaccinated against viruses, including those that cause upper respiratory and eye infections. However, while vaccines for upper respiratory infections will minimize infection, they do not always prevent cats from contracting viral infections.

Eye infections in dogs

Dogs typically contract bacterial conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis can cause eye discharge, squinting, redness and cloudiness in the eyes. Your dog may also try to rub and scratch their eyes.

Treatment of eye infections in dogs

See your veterinarian right away if your dog has symptoms of an eye infection. Your vet will perform tests to determine the best course of treatment for the infection. Your veterinarian will want to make sure that there is no corneal ulcer and that your dog’s tear production is adequate. If it is a simple eye infection, antibiotic ointments or drops made for the eye can help treat the eye infection.

Prevention of eye infections in dogs

Check your dog’s eyes regularly to make sure the dog isn’t showing symptoms of an infection. A lot of bacterial eye infections in dogs are actually caused by a primary eyelid problem such as entropion (or eyelids that roll in on the cornea) that will need to be addressed by your veterinarian.

Although ear and eye infections are common in animals, they can easily be prevented with proper care. If your pet does show symptoms of an ear or eye infection, make sure to see your veterinarian right away for treatment. Early detection and treatment is the key to your pet’s long-term ear and eye health.