Itchy ears by themselves usually aren't a serious problem. The constant scratching, however, can set the stage for inflammation and infection. When your pet has been pawing his ears and shaking his head for more than a day or two, you will need to see your vet.

It probably won't be difficult for your vet to identify the problem. First, she will look inside your pet's ears with a viewing instrument called an otoscope. She may take an ear swab to check for mites or infection. She also will check for polyp growths in the ear that can lead to infections.

If your pet does have an infection, he is going to need antibiotics, which are usually taken for a week to 10 days. To relieve the itch, he may be given steroids, either in injection, pill, or drop form. Or if the itching is caused by allergies, he may receive antihistamines instead. Your vet will let you know what drug and dose is right for your pet.

It is always better to prevent allergies than to try to treat them. Your vet may recommend that you see a veterinarian specializing in allergies, who will run a series of skin tests to determine what, exactly, your pet is allergic to. These tests are extremely efficient and can test your pet's sensitivity to as many as 50 substances at one time.

If your pet has other problems, of course, such as thyroid disease, he is going to need medications to help control the problem.

See also: Dirty ears | Discharge | Odors | Swelling and redness

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