" Dog ear wax or Cerumen is produced in the ears. It is produced by the ear for several purposes such as for cleaning, for limiting the population of microorganisms and as a shock absorber for the inner delicate layers of the ear drum. Canine ear wax can sometimes indicate a developing ear problem through its appearance, quantity and composition. Regular dog ear cleaning is essential to restrict ear wax production, otherwise excessive accumulation of wax can lead to certain problems such as those related to the suppression of the immune system, growth of microorganisms and partial deafness due to reduced ear drum exposure to sound waves. "
Canine ear wax, which is medically termed Cerumen, is produced in the cartilaginous part the of ear. It appears yellowish to brownish in color. Keratin, fatty acids, corneocytes (soft skin tissues), alcohol and cholesterol are some of the components of ear wax in dogs.
The primary function of canine ear wax is to keep the inner delicate layers of the dog ear covered, act as a shock absorber for the ear drums and to keep the population of micro organisms limited to normal levels. Along with these functions, ear wax in dogs is sometimes considered an indicator for a developing ear problem. Excessive and/or reduced wax secretion usually represents any abnormality in a dog’s ear, which is assessed through wax appearance and composition.
Canine ear wax has been identified as a lubricant for the inner ear and it possesses properties of an anti fungal and anti bacterial mode of action.
Ear wax normally appears yellowish to brownish in color. It is produced more in dogs with floppy ears. Dust, debris and microbial agents can cause an alteration in its appearance, consistency and functionality, thus certain symptoms may develop within the ear which are related to the ear wax.
If dog ears are not cleaned regularly, there is a chance that that the ear wax will become polluted or altered. Thus, over time it gets harder and production of fresh ear wax is reduced. As a result, microbial activity in the ear increases and physiology of the ear gets disturbed.
Symptoms such as pain, excessive discharge in the ear, pus and the development of lesions over time can be noted as the stages of a dog ear problem related to ear wax develop. Research studies have proven that symptoms of such as anxiety, stress and restlessness can cause excessive production of ear wax.
Excessive ear discharge ear or the appearance of dryness in the ear along with a strong dog ear odor upon examination represents a canine ear problem. Ear wax can be used as an indicator of the possible cause of an ear problem. Pus, Blood or different components of dog ear wax which appear as ear discharge are sometimes examined under a microscope and cultured to identify possible causative micro organisms.
Dog owners should notice the appearance of the ear wax and any abnormal secretions in the ear every time it is examined such as during regular cleaning.
Excessive ear wax secretion is a symptom itself and represents some specific cause of the ear problem. Regular ear cleaning and detailed inspection by a veterinarian at least once in 6 months can help in preventing problems related to dog ear wax.
At home, dog owners should use quality dog ear cleaners for this purpose; vinegar, olive oil and vitamin E are considered quality “Cerumenolytic Agents”. For example, PetCalm Formula and playful activities can help to reduce the impact of behavioral problems.
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Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co. 2008)
Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine
Black’s Veterinary Dictionary (A&C Black Publisher, 2005) 21st Edition
Dobson, J.M, Text Book of Small Animal Medicine (W.B Saunders London. 2001)