External Ear Canal – Shape

The shape of the external ear canal in the dog and cat is very much different from yours and mine. In general the ear canal should be free of debris (except hair), free of odor, and free of pain when touched.

The external ear canal starts at the eardrum and extends outward and upward from the head. There are two annular rings of cartilage that are connected to form a 110-degree angle and thereby make up the size and shape of the ear canal. The lining of the external ear canal is made up of skin that contains wax glands and hair follicles. There are muscles connected to the cartilage that controls the position of the earflaps and thus allow for a better collection of sound waves.

The environment easily affects the health of the ear canal. For example, if any moisture gets down into the canal and it is not allowed to evaporate for some reason, then an excellent opportunity for bacteria to grow has been created. This same condition can be created when there is an allergy problem stimulating a fluid or wax builds up in the canal. Pests such as ear mites can also result in production of debris in the canal. Anything that results in an abnormal accumulation of material in the ear canal often cannot get out due to the canal pointing upward and thus inhibiting drainage.

The warning signs of trouble for the ear canal are; an unusual odor increased sensitivity, a reddish discoloration of the canal, presence of a large amount of debris and shaking or scratching excessively of the earflaps. Any one or combination of these symptoms is cause for concern that there is something wrong with the ear canal. There are many different types of cleaning products available on the market. The most important goal is to properly clean the ear canal before any therapeutic treatment is given. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will be the best one to demonstrate the safe technique for cleaning and medicating the ear canal.

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