Who could not help falling in love with an adorable round face framed with a set of floppy ears that is so unmistakably a Cavapoo? But could those long silky ears be a source of pain for your little Cavapoo? Read on and we will cover all things ear-related so you know what to look out for, how to care for, and when to head to the vet should your Cavapoo develop any ear-related issues.
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Are Cavapoos Prone to Ear Issues?
In short. Yes.
Cavapoos’ have long floppy ears which cover the ear openings and as a result can trap warm moist air in the ear canal. That is a dream come true for all types of bacteria.
As opposed to other breeds with upright ears (think Chihuahua, French bulldogs, Cattle dogs, etc) the hairy ears of the Cavapoo can unintentionally work to trap foreign bodies in the ear.
What Ear Problems do Cavapoos Have?
There can be a range of different causes for your Cavapoo to have poorly ears. Let’s take a look:
- Infection –. By far the most common problem is infection. This occurs when bacteria enter the ear canal or the existing bacteria in the ear begins to grow out of control. Bacteria love warm moist areas and your Cavapoo’s ears can be a perfect breeding ground, unfortunately.
- Allergies – Just like humans, some Cavapoos can exhibit allergies. These can be to all manner of things such as ingredients in their food, dust, and pollen to name a few. The most common way this presents is itchy and inflamed skin which can be anywhere in the body including the ear. Once the skin in the ear is inflamed it can cause your dog to scratch causing injury or infection.
- Ear mites – These little pests can be picked up by your pet when they move through long grass or be passed on from one of their doggy play pals. Cavapoos tend to have hair that extends into the ear canal giving mites a direct path to where they want to set up camp.
- Foreign objects – Other things that can be picked up from the environment include things like grass seeds and small debris such as flecks of bark, leaves, or dirt. Once in the ear canal and covered over with your Cavapoo’s ears and fur it can be very hard for any uninvited visitors to work their way back out unaided. A dog’s attempt to scratch the irritating item can often inadvertently push it further down the ear canal where the ear will then become inflamed.
- Endocrine/Autoimmune disorders – Thankfully Cavapoos are not overly predisposed to endocrine or autoimmune disorders however any condition impacting the immune systems or hormone balance can result in more frequent infections including in the ears.
- Wax build-up – Some Cavapoos may have fur further down into their ear canal, making it easy for the area to become clogged with ear wax. Excess wax can trap moisture and dirt increasing the perfect growing conditions for bacteria.
- Over-cleaning – Although we have outlined the tendencies for your Cavapoo’s ear to harbor some nasties, all dogs will have a degree of bacteria in their ears. It will not benefit your Cavapoo to clean their ears excessively as that can irritate the skin, increase inflammation and lead to even more infections.
What are the Signs of Ear Infections in Cavapoos?
Just as humans find ear infections or problems unpleasant so will your Cavapoo. Unfortunately, they are not able to just tell you what the issue is. There will be signs from your dog if they are having ear woes. Here are some of the key ones to look out for.
- Ear Odor – Normally one of the first giveaways that your Cavapoo is having ear issues will be an unpleasant odor. Often this will be a particularly foul or yeasty scent that will have others giving your pup a wide berth. Dependent on the nature of the bacteria causing the infection it can also be a cheesy or sickly-sweet smell. This can often be smelt without necessarily lifting the ear and may be present on bedding or soft furnishings as your dog seeks to rub the irritated ear on fabric for relief.
- Head shaking, tilting, or ear scratching – Once the ear canal is inflamed it can be extremely annoying to your Cavapoo. They may exhibit unusual health tilting, head shaking, or resort to vigorous self-scratching of their ears in an attempt to relieve the irritation.
- Redness or swelling of the ear with or without discharge – On examination of your pup’s ear, you may see some noticeable changes such as redness instead of nice pink skin. There may be swelling to the outer visible part of the ear through irritation or because of scratching. Sometimes there will be a noticeable discharge that can be brown, yellowish, or even bloody in nature.
- Balance issues and/or unusual eye movements – If an infection or ear issue is advanced, it can cause symptoms in other areas, affecting your dog’s movement or balance. They may also develop some unusual or shaky movements of the eyes. This is due to the inner ear playing a big role in both balance and eye control.
- Aggressiveness or aversion to the ears being touched – An infected ear can be a painful ear and your Cavapoo may react negatively to any attempts to touch it. It is important that you are gentle and reassuring to your dog and it is always a good idea to work on making them comfortable with you inspecting their ears as part of routine care so you can spot any problems early.
What Other Problems Can Ear Infections Cause?
The most notable impact of any ear problems on your Cavapoo is likely to be pain or discomfort. Failing to treat an ear infection promptly or fully though can result in longer-term damage.
Your Cavapoo may sustain permanent damage to the hearing in the affected ear or if certain aspects of the inner ear are damaged their balance may be permanently affected.
Should You Treat at Home? If So, How?
Prevention is Better than Cure
One of the best things you can do for your Cavapoo is work with them from a young age to ensure they tolerate having their ears inspected. Checking out both ears visually at least once a week or after any particularly grubby activities like swimming or mud rolling can help you spot any issues early.
This means you can remove debris before it becomes impacted or start some at-home cleansing treatments before it progresses to a full infection.
Clean Those Ears
You will need to help your Cavapoo keep their ears in tip-top shape. This will likely require cleaning their ears between once and twice a week. The key is to remove surface wax, debris, and dirt only. Scrubbing too hard can not only be unpleasant for your dog but also remove the level of normal wax and oil secretions needed to help maintain the ear.
Using a soft cloth, gauze, or cotton pad you can use any number of vet-approved ear rinses or lotions available direct from your vet or pet store. Be careful not to use any irritants such as soap or vinegar.
Soft gentle motions alongside massaging the ear should be enough to dislodge anything that needs to be removed.
To Pluck or Not to Pluck?
Some Cavapoos may have hair follicles deep into the ear’s opening, which means fur can grow downwards into the ear, causing irritation. Some groomers or vets may suggest plucking these hairs although there is some conflicting research that removing them may cause micro-tears in the skin, raising the risk of infection.
It is always best to discuss your dog’s particularly issues fully with a vet experienced in their care.
The internet has pages upon pages of suggested home treatment advice for ear infections in dogs. There is much debate over whether these actually work or in some cases such as hydrogen peroxide or apple cider vinegar if this actually has the potential to cause more damage.
As a rule of thumb if no improvement is being seen with good hygiene using an approved ear cleansing/rinsing solution it is likely time to be ringing the vet.
When to See a Vet?
Due to the potential for pain and long-term damage to your Cavapoo’s ears, it is always best to seek a veterinary consultation if an ear infection is suspected. Evidence of balance issues, bloody discharge, or particularly red or inflamed ears all indicate that a more urgent appointment is needed.
The good news is most Cavapoo ear problems respond promptly to treatment. This may be a course of antibiotics or some medicated ear drops. For those with more persistent or recurrent ear infections or problems, a good vet will be able to work with the owner to have a management plan and rule out any other underlying factors.