What Does it Means When Dogs Lick Ears?

dog licking ears

 

Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince is a partner at Elmhurst Animal Care Center in Elmhurst, Illinois. In this role, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince provides preventative care services and other treatments for a variety of pets. The team at Elmhurst Animal Care Center works with patients to help them understand dog behaviors, especially strange ones like licking ears.

Ear-licking behavior is largely motivated by a dog’s pack mentality. Licking ears expresses affection, respects, and dedication to the pack through mutual grooming. At the same time, other factors contribute to this behavior, such as a predilection for flavor of earwax. Dogs often use their tongues to explore the environment, and they can learn that it is a flavor they enjoy.

If a dog suddenly becomes obsessed with another dog’s ear, owners should take note since an ear infection or some other discharge could be the reason.

In general, licking ears is harmless. However, excessive licking can case moisture to build in the ear canal, which leads to other issues. For that reason, owners should discourage the behavior by using distractions like toys or treats to break a dog’s concentration.

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Household Hazards for Small Pets

Small Pets pic
Small Pets
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Veterinarian Joel Todd Leroy Prince practices at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center in Illinois. A board certified veterinarian, Joel Todd Leroy Prince is particularly knowledgable about the care and treatment of small animals.

Health hazards around the home are one of the greatest health concerns for curious small pets such as hamsters and rats. Heavy metals and toxins found in common household items are of particular concern. Electric cords, a commonly chewed upon item, contain zinc. This can lead to zinc poisoning, which may be fatal.

Lead poisoning is another key concern, especially in older homes. Paint, drywall, linoleum, and other construction materials can contain lead. Small mammals routinely find ways to access and chew these materials, especially when permitted to explore unsupervised.

Some types of commonly sold pet bedding can be dangerous for small pets as well. Cedar and pine beddings are known to cause health problems in most types of small animals, and are to be avoided.

First Response Actions for Cat Seizures

Cat Seizures pic
Cat Seizures
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Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince serves as a veterinarian at several locations in and around Naperville, Illinois. With a strong background that includes board certification in small animal practice, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince focuses much of his practice on neurological disorders in dogs and cats.

As with humans and other animals, seizures in cats occur as a result of abnormal electromagnetic brain activity. Such events often manifest with unusual behavior, such as pacing or yowling, which is followed by the seizure itself, in which the cat collapses, stiffens, and enters convulsions that feature unusual movements.

When the cat wakes, it may continue to display postictal symptoms such as temporary paralysis and behavior changes. If a cat shows signs of an impending or an occurring seizure, the owner’s responsibility is to keep the cat safe until the seizure is over.

Staying as calm as possible, the owner should remove any potentially dangerous objects from the cat’s vicinity. If this is not possible, such when the cat near stairs, the owner may try to move the cat to a safe location.

Experts also recommend moving a seizing cat if the animal is on a table, bed, or other raised surface. If the seizure is in progress, the owner should be aware of the potential for uncontrolled scratching or biting.

Owners should then watch the cat to make sure that it stays safe throughout the seizure. If the seizure continues for more than three minutes or is immediately followed by another seizure, experts recommend that the owner call a veterinarian. When the seizure does stop, disorientation may cause the cat to act out, so the owner must continue to observe the cat to make sure it does not injure itself or others.

Peripheral Neuropathy in Dogs

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Peripheral Neuropathy
Image: petmd.com

As a DVM, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince has been practicing veterinary medicine since 1984. Additionally, he is active with several associations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, and the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince’s primary interests are soft tissue and orthopedic surgical procedures, oncology, and neurological disorders.

Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder in dogs that affects multiple peripheral nerves. Unlike the protected nerves of the spine, the peripheral nerves are exposed to elements that come into contact with the dog’s body, leaving them more prone to toxic damage and physical injury. Peripheral nerves are spread throughout the body and are responsible for conscious movement, flow of the digestive system, and automatic physical responses.

Numerous conditions are linked to peripheral neuropathy, or the degeneration of the sheath which protects the peripheral nerves. Examples include an underactive thyroid gland, autonomic movement disorder affecting motor and sensorimotor nerves, dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, and sensory nerve disorders.

Neurological Diseases in Dogs

Joel Todd Leroy Prince pic
Joel Todd Leroy Prince

Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince is a small animal veterinarian who resides and works in Illinois. In addition to serving as a partner at Elmhurst Animal Care Center, he brings his more than two decades of medical experience to three additional clinics in the Chicago area. Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince focuses his practice on companion animal preventive care, and is dedicated to continuing his professional education in fields such as neurological disorders.

There are a number of neurological disorders that can affect your pets. Three of these medical conditions, and their effect on canines, are outlined below.

Parkinson’s Disease. Though in humans this condition most often affects the elderly, dogs with this hereditary, degenerative disease often begin experiencing symptoms such as tremors, stiff muscles, and poor balance at a young age.

Epilepsy. Believed to also be hereditary in dogs, epilepsy causes repetitive seizures that range in severity. Animals afflicted with this condition are often prescribed anticonvulsant drugs, and require regular veterinarian appointments.

Degenerative Myelopathy. A result of degeneration in the spinal cord and peripheral nerves, this condition occurs quite suddenly in adult dogs, and is seen most often in German Shepherds, corgis, and boxers. The hind legs gradually become weaker over six months to a year, until the animal is no longer able to support themselves at the rear.

Easing a Cat’s Anxiety at the Veterinarian’s Office

Elmhurst Animal Care Center pic
Elmhurst Animal Care Center
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At Elmhurst Animal Care Center, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince and his team maintain a cat-friendly environment. Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince and his fellow veterinarians uphold a commitment to reducing the anxiety that cats often feel during veterinarian visits.

For many cats and their owners, a visit to the veterinarian is synonymous with stress. Part of cats’ fear stems from the negative associations that they develop with key parts of the visit, such as the carrier and the car ride. Owners often find that if they incorporate these experiences more into the cat’s everyday life, the cat becomes less likely to associate them with a stressful vet visit and thus less likely to find them anxiety provoking.

Once the cat actually arrives at the vet, the key to reduced stress comes via an understanding of what the animal finds comforting. Cats generally feel safest when they can hide from perceived threats, so a towel over the cat’s carrier can often help. This also ensures that the cat cannot see other pets in the waiting room.

Waiting rooms can also be stressful because they are filled with loud noises and unpleasant smells. Cats’ heightened sense of smell means that they can become highly anxious if faced with such common veterinary office smells as blood, disinfectants, and deodorizers. Similarly, because cats are particularly perceptive, they can pick up on the stress of other pets or humans in the waiting room.

Cat-friendly practices often strive to eliminate these types of stimuli. If such an office is not available, the owner may wish to advocate for his or her cat’s needs by asking to wait in the hallway or car. Another strategy is the use of feline facial pheromone (FFP), which many practices spray in cat care areas and which is available commercially.

Symptoms of Feline Idiopathic Epilepsy

Feline Idiopathic Epilepsy pic
Feline Idiopathic Epilepsy
Image: elmhurstanimalcarecenter.com

As a board-certified small animal veterinarian at Elmhurst Animal Care Center, and at other practices in and around Naperville, Illinois, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince treats a wide variety of canine and feline illnesses. Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince pursues a particular interest in epilepsy and other neurological conditions.

Seizures in cats often present as a sign of idiopathic epilepsy, a congenital condition with no identifiable cause. The disease causes the neurons in the brain to fire abnormally and excessively, which in turn prompts abnormal behaviors, sensations, and muscle contractions. During such an event, the cat may fall to the floor, stiffen, or paddle its limbs. Many cats lose control of their bladder and bowels as well.

A seizure often occurs following an aura, also known as a focal onset, during which time the cat may become agitated. Some cats in this stage seek comfort from their human companions, while others attempt to hide themselves. After the seizure that follows, the cat is likely to appear confused and disoriented.

Owners of cats with idiopathic epilepsy may be able to control these symptoms through the use of anticonvulsant medications. It is unlikely that a cat with the condition will ever be symptom-free, but veterinarians and owners can work toward minimizing serious side effects.