It’s the middle of the night and there it goes again. The flap, flap, flap of ears and the jingle of a collar wake you abruptly then just about the time you think everything is quiet… there it goes again!

When the morning comes you are stressed and exhausted. You know something is up but are so tired you figure that you will deal with it as soon as you are caught up on sleep. This is your call to action!

There are a few easy things that you can do in the light of day to help move both your pet and you to a better place and put sleep front and center for the coming days.  

Your pet is not trying to keep you up or get attention. Something is bothering them. The first move is to try and get a peak in those ears-but only if they will let you. If they are too distressed by you even trying to look, then proceed with caution and call your vet before going any further. 

Many animals are worried by even their own people handling their sensitive ears if they are painful and may lash out or become afraid when someone approaches that area of their body. 

If your pet lets you then see if you can get a flashlight or the light of a phone involved and try to gently peak way down in there by lifting up the outer furry part of the ear or gently moving the long hairs to improve your view. Frequently you will find that there is a large amount of debris, some smelly funk, or some very red skin involved if you get a good look. If you don’t see anything and the shaking continues that also provides great information.

Now that you have done some basic investigating, go ahead and give your vet’s office a call to talk through a plan to make your pet more comfortable. This will likely include getting an appointment on the books or some gentle cleaning under their direction. Your veterinarian may want to use their otoscope to really see down in the ear or take some samples to look at under the microscope so they can find a more specific source of the problem.

Ear infections are pretty common and it really pays for you to be proactive about treatment.  Some are caused by yeast or bacterial growth in those dark warm ear canals while others may be the result of allergies or parasitic infections. Many are a combination of several factors that need to be addressed all together to make your pet comfortable again. The sooner you can get the ears under control the better because if left untreated there can be complications that are harder to deal with later. 

There is a condition called an aural hematoma where some cartilage in the outer flap of the ear can break from all that flapping and cause a swelling that looks like a pillow on those cute soft furry parts of the ear. This doesn’t happen to every pet but the more flapping, the more likely, and it is trickier to get under control than a regular ear infection. Other times chronic ear infections can lead to a narrowing of the canal and then it can actually make future infections more likely and harder to treat.  

With a little teamwork, some basic investigation, and a call to your pet health team you and your pet can be back on the road towards a good night’s sleep. The flapping is your cue to look deeper and be a calm advocate for the furry companion in your life.

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