Are Ear Drops Safe for Cats?
When it comes to ear health, most humans are relatively privileged—we rarely even think about our ears until our hearing starts to fade in our twilight years. As soon as we notice that our ears ache, itch, or burn, we make an appointment with our doctor, get a diagnosis, and follow the instructions on the label of whatever ear drops they prescribe for us. We also use our own experiences as a framework for how we manage the health of our children and the rest of our families. When the sick family member in question is a cat, however, things get tricky.
Given that earaches are generally mild in nature, many pet parents feel that they are equipped to deal with their furry friend’s ear-related woes. When we notice our sweet shorthair pawing at their ear in a frenzy, we scurry off to the medicine cabinet in search of a way to relieve their discomfort. Most of us have ear drops of some sort on hand, so we have to decide whether or not we should use them. Is this a good idea? Can cats have ear drops?
The answer is yes, but we do not recommend administering eardrops on your own. We recommend you seek veterinary care first. Most ear drops are not going to cause any serious damage to your cat’s ear—unless they are prescription strength medication with powerful ingredients designed to treat a certain condition, they will probably not hurt your cat. However, because it is impossible for most of us to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of our cat’s ear pain, the best thing we can do is take them to be examined by a vet. Your veterinarian will be able to identify the cause of their discomfort and prescribe a targeted treatment plan to solve the problem. Different types of ear pain require different medications!
Most of the over-the-counter ear drops available for human ear infections, swimmer’s ear, and other mild forms of irritation are safe for cats. This means that reaching for the ear drops in your medicine cabinet is not likely to cause any life-threatening symptoms of toxicity, so if you have already given your cat ear drops, you need not panic. Medications formulated for humans may not be effective. If you are going to give your cat ear drops, it is best to find a brand of over-the-counter drops that have been designed specifically for sore cat ears.
Even though ear drops will not poison your cat, the general consensus is that it is a bad idea to try to tackle your cat’s ear problems on your own. Your furry friend will most likely survive receiving ear drops, but there may not be many benefits. Most of us know very little about cat health, so our ability to properly diagnose our pets’ problems is rather limited. Whenever we invest our energy into home remedies or over-the-counter drugs, we run the risk of misdiagnosing (and improperly treating) our cats’ problems.
If you notice your cat’s discomfort, is it probably severe enough that they need actual medical care. Symptoms that require veterinary care include a tilted head, poor balance or disorientation, swelling or inflammation in any part of the ear, a foul odor inside the ear, yellow or black discharge, excessive ear wax production, hearing loss, oozing sores, or bleeding. Do not administer ear drops if your cat has open wounds inside their ear.
We may assume that our cat has a mild ear infection when they are, in fact, struggling with parasites or a more serious condition. Using the wrong type of eardrops probably will not cause significant harm, but it certainly will not help their problem—if you are treating the wrong thing, all you wind up doing is prolonging your cat’s suffering!
Things to Consider
Most importantly, avoid giving your cat homemade eardrops or ear cleaning solutions. Many recipes for home remedies include ingredients such as peroxide, vinegar, and alcohol, which may worsen your cat’s symptoms and cause them great discomfort. Peroxide and vinegar have a high water content, which can actually encourage bacterial growth. Alcohol will not encourage bacterial growth, but it may cause a lot of pain, which can create problems further down the road.
If your cat learns to associate ear drops with pain, you will have serious difficulty convincing them to let you administer ear drops in the future. Ear drops are almost never pleasant, but the medications your vet prescribes will be less unpleasant and more effective than anything you manage to make at home. Ear infections, parasites, and other conditions are painful enough without poorly constructed home remedies.
In conclusion, ear drops are a safe remedy for ear infections and parasites, but they should not be administered without the recommendation of a veterinarian. If your cat appears to be suffering from an ear problem, take them to be examined by a veterinarian. Most of us are not educated enough to properly diagnose our cats’ health problems.