Removing your guinea pig’s ear wax is safe, easy, and crucial. Making your guinea pigs’ ears clean is not that difficult. In fact, it should be one of the processes in their usual grooming sessions. So, let us learn more about how do you clean a guinea pig’s ears.
To remove your guinea pig’s ear wax safely, you will need cotton buds, cloth, and patience. Calm down your guinea pigs and inspect their ears. If you find any large piece of dirt or wax, use a tweezer to get rid of it. And the remaining can be cleaned up using wet buds in the bottom to top motion.
And solutions for cleaning their ears you can simply use warm water.
Though, a lot of care needs to be taken to prevent pushing of ear wax deep into the ear. As it can lead to an infection in ears, and over-cleaning of ears can also do the same.
A spread of ear wax can develop infections in-ears, affecting the outer, middle, and inner ear, with each causing pain and irritation.
If not treated early, surgeries are required to get rid of these infections, which in response gives permanent loss of hearing and balance problems.
Being aware of ear infection symptoms so you can detect if there is any problem with your guinea pig. You might need to rush them to a vet if needed.
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Do guinea pigs get ear wax?
Like many animals, guinea pigs also have sensitive ears, and to keep ears healthy, they produce ear wax.
Grooming on their own is not sufficient to stop the uncontrollable spreadings of ear wax. As the ears of guinea pigs have tricky structures, the owners must keep cleaning their guinea pigs regularly.
Otherwise, your guinea pigs can suffer from inflammation and infection in the ear.
Ear wax is produced by glands in the skin to protect the inner ears from foreign materials.
The sticky sediment and the soft inner ear hairs capture the dirt and dust pieces before they come in contact with eardrums and keep the inner ear clean and junk-free.
Ear wax is not wax also. It is a combination of sweat, dirt, skin cells, and sebum. Over build-up of ear wax can lead to painful and irritating conditions, in other words- ear infections.
Guinea pigs get easily affected by multiple ear diseases and ear mites also, which itself results in ear infections. So, it is crucial to keep their ear’s clean
My guinea pig has ear wax
Every guinea pig has ear wax. However, guinea pigs, which have floppy ears, are more open to ear infections.
As guinea pigs with floppy ears have malformed ear cartilage where a lot of ear wax can buildup, the risk of ear infection is significantly higher in these guinea pigs
Two popular guinea pig breeds which have floppy ears includes:
- Rex guinea pig
- Baldwin guinea pig
According to studies, the floppy-eared guinea pigs have a considerable risk of suffering from infections in the middle ear also. And this infection can be developed due to the wax build-up in the fold of ears.
Improper cleaning, which old guinea pigs struggle through, can ultimately result in the spread of wax build-up build up into the ear canal, ultimately creating a cavity full of wax. And this can be very discomforting and cause the infection to grow more.
Can you clean a guinea pig’s ears?
You can clean the ears of your guinea pigs. You should put this cleaning process as a standard part of the grooming routine of your guinea pigs.
Inspect your guinea pigs’ ears once in a month, at least. If you observe any considerable signs like a tilting of the head or scratching a lot, you must inspect their ears.
Mainly all guinea pigs are capable of cleaning their ears on their own without struggling. But that does not mean that you should stop cleaning their ears by the time.
You have actual hands to clean their ear, and you can also try different solutions and tools to clean their ears correctly.
Older guinea pigs and floppy-eared guinea pigs face problems with cleaning their ears; they will need you to help them get rid of the wax buildup.
What can I use to clean guinea pig ears?
Usual cleaning of your guinea pig’s ear does not require any specific solutions. A delicate cloth with warm water is all-sufficient for the routine cleaning. You can even use cotton buds as well.
Ears with too much wax may require some unique solutions to weaken the thick build-up of wax. Consult with your vet about the commercial cleaning solutions of ear wax.
There are some home treatments advised like honey and water or olive oil to clean off the wax build-ups. However, it is better not to apply such home remedies before consulting any professional vet.
Too much earwax can be challenging to be removed. It may require some medicated or chemical solutions to be cleaned off. Your vet clinic must be having different types of guinea pigs safe cleaning solutions available.
A headlamp is a helpful tool to be taken into use. It will make the procedure of checking the ears easier, as you can see inside the ears of your guinea pigs with the help of this.
As an alternative, if you have someone else helping you, then a penlight will also work correctly.
How to clean guinea pig ear wax
Cleaning the ears of your guinea pigs must be done slowly and gently. As guinea pigs have soft ears, they must be handled gently.
It should be kept in mind that no dirt particles or ear wax should be pushed deep inside the ear canal while cleaning the guinea pigs’ ears.
Before heading forward to clean the ears or checking them, you require to get your guinea pigs ready for cleaning.
Start interacting with your guinea pigs already, even before brushing as you initiate a grooming session. That will gently let your guinea pigs be calm and make the cleaning ear process safer. If your guinea pigs get stressed, allow them to clean their ears some other day.
If your guinea pigs get calm, you can check their ears. Carefully handle their ears and check if any wax or mites is there or not.
Increase the light intensity to see further in the ear canal. Are there any stoppages or coating of wax? Any trapped dirt pieces? Reasonably large pieces can be removed with the help of forceps or cotton buds.
But, do not attempt to push anything deep into the ears as it can be excruciating and result in an ear infection.
Now the next step is to wash out the rest of the wax away. Moisten a cloth with warm water or any other cleaning solution and gently rub the guinea pigs’ ear from the downside-up.
Keep doing this in the same motion till all the wax and dirt particles get cleaned off.
Be sure that while working on this process, your guinea pigs are entirely comfortable.
Grooming is an experience of setting up the bond between you and your guinea pigs. A hint of love! Treat them in such a way, and your guinea pigs may enjoy their ears getting clean.
Why guinea pigs ears need to be cleaned
Cleaning the ears of your guinea pigs is an essential part of ownership. That is not only believed as grooming behaviors in guinea pigs; but, a signal of love as well. It also secures their ears from developing any unpleasant infections.
A build-up of earwax can increase the risk of bacteria and yeast to grow uncontrollably, resulting in more ear infections.
Ear infections are mainly divided into 2 types: outer ear infections, middle and inner ear infections.
Ear infection in guinea pigs
Middle and inner ear infections are known as otitis media and otitis interna which causes inflammation in both the middle and inner ear.
Many things can cause infections in the middle ear in addition to earwax build-ups.
The middle ear of guinea pigs is an air-filled cavity among eardrums and outer ears. The infection which spreads in the external ear can reach the eardrum and then to the middle ear.
Middle ear infections that give rise to pus can fill the cavity, placing pressure on the eardrum. This discharge (pus) can grow and put pressure on the eardrum, which can eventually burst.
According to studies, infections with specific bacterias in the upper respiratory passage can simply infect the middle ear, causing ear infections not associated with earwax.
The inner ear is very gentle and has complex structures, in which some structures are not really for hearing.
Internal ear infections are sometimes guided by tilting of the head as parts of the inner ears are used for balance, and one of them is called the labyrinth.
Internal severe infections can lead to permanent balancing issues and head tilt.
Other than visible signals, only a vet can find out the seriousness of the infection. X-rays will quickly show up the pus build-ups.
Other ear infections in guinea pigs
Outer infections, otitis externa, is an inflammation of the external ear canal.
The requirement of surgery is there in severe cases of outer ear infections.
According to studies, surgery can treat these severe middle and external ear infections thoroughly. This process is as complicated as the name of the surgery itself is complete ear ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy.
Outer ear infections can be even stimulated by upper respiratory infection and mites.
In a few cases, the susceptible skin of guinea pigs may also be irritated, exposing the skin to diseases that can turn into the case of otitis externa.
This irritation could occur due to specific cleaning solutions sold as “guinea pig safe” or too forceful cleaning.
If not appropriately treated, outer ear infections can reach the middle ear resulting in irritation, pain, and the whole quality of life. As stated above, ear infections can cause permanent loss of hearing if left untreated.
Signs of ear infection in guinea pigs
As per studies, ear infections are found generally in guinea pigs. They are the noticeable primary forms of ear diseases that a vet can see.
Relatively, it happens because guinea pigs will hide their pain and discomfort. It means when the owner starts observing that something is not correct, the infection has headed forward.
Apart from checking the ears of guinea pigs sharply continuously, there are some other signs to be kept in observation, which will show if something is wrong with your guinea pigs and ear infection is mainly the cause of the mishappening.
Loss of appetite
Usually, when guinea pigs lose their hunger, you get to know that something is incorrect.
It is always worth observing if your guinea pigs refuse to eat food. Ear infections can make your guinea pigs refuse to eat for several reasons.
Often ear infections affect the equilibrium of animals. That can make your guinea pigs feel a spinning sensation and lose their balance, which stops them from eating.
In addition to this, ear infections can also make any painful jaw movements. They are named as the act of chewing.
Dizzy guinea pigs cannot chew and thus they will hardly eat any food properly.
Discharge with a foul smell can be seen from the ears of your guinea pigs if there is an ear infection. Usually, a strong unpleasant smell clears that the problem is in the central or middle air.
The infection discharge looks quite similar to pus. It appears white, thick, and creamy sometimes. An ear infection that has reached until this state will also lead to redness and swelling in the ear.
The inner ear is the spot where all balancing organs are situated. Together with unsteadiness, guinea pigs might tilt their heads continuously. And it is called torticollis or head tilt.
According to studies, head tilting was one of the signs of ear infections in all guinea pigs, which were under observation.
Guinea pigs may tilt their heads, playing the role of damaging the balancing organs or to ease the pain.
You may observe guinea pigs shaking their heads as if they are trying to loosen something or rub their ears on the surface. They even pin down their ears in pain. These actions might be conducted by head tilt.
Change in behavior
Those Guinea pigs who are in pain will have certain changes in their behavior.
They will escape more than they usually do, withdraw themselves from love and groomings, and warn their guinea pig partners or you to stay away from them by nipping.
Take a look at other signals of pain and discomfort:
- Pinning ears backward
- Bending or hunched positions
- Grinding their teeth
- Swollen eyes
- Quick breathings and puffing.
Guinea pigs frequently groom themselves many times in a day. But being in pain, they might stop grooming.
Change in appearance
There are many more symptoms of developing ear infections.
It includes crusts around the ear, Loss of fur, bald patches around the ear, red ears, and scaling around ears.
How to cure ear infection in guinea pigs?
Treatment of ear infection can be done by determining the seriousness of the infection.
Not so severe cases can be settled down quickly by regular cleaning sessions to remove earwax.
Antibiotics and guinea pigs carry a complicated relationship. Any vet who is entirely aware of guinea pigs will know that antibiotic treatment can only be advised to guinea pigs in a limited and selected manner.
A real ear infection will need a treatment of antibiotics and workable anti-inflammatory agents.
Infections in outer ears can be handled with antibiotic flushes, and preservings or disease in the middle and inner ear can be treated by supplying antibiotics for the long-term.
A severe ear infection can be resolved through surgeries. And the process of these surgeries is discussed above, or it might be a surgical ear flushing by giving your guinea pigs a temporary loss of sensation.
Anti-parasite treatment courses can treat ear infections caused by mites in the ear.
Hard ear wax in guinea pigs
Often, the build-up of earwax can turn into hard solid masses of wax. This wax can create a stopper that can affect hearing and give pain in response.
Substantial chunks of earwax will need a vet to take out the stopper or advised treatment to loosen and flush the stopper out.
Guinea pigs with their ears sealed with wax may struggle in hearing. Do some hearing tests and check your guinea pigs’ ears if you feel that they are losing their ability to hear.
What causes ear wax build up in guinea pig?
Ear wax builds up naturally by the time. Their bodies slowly take the wax out of the inner ear to the outer ear from where guinea pigs can clean it off. There are several reasons for wax building up.
Old guinea pigs suffering from arthritis can struggle to clean their ears. As their joints become rigid, which may pain a lot as they try to clean their ears. This issue can be observed similarly in guinea pigs, which are disabled or struggle to move.
Floppy ear guinea pigs experience a more stringent time while they groom their ears. The floppy ear of guinea pig makes it difficult for them to reach inside the ear. Additionally, not having control over its ear muscle, such guinea pigs face difficulties in cleaning their ears without any help.
In both cases, the absence of the ability to move and flexibility stops guinea pigs from properly cleaning themselves. That lets the ear wax to build up. The last cause of earwax build-up is due to an infection or mite infestation.
Ear mites in guinea pigs
You may have guessed already that ear mites are the small parasites that live in the animals. This parasite is known as Psoroptes cuniculi.
It can quickly develop among animals, as it can live on the outer part of the ears for many days at the time of sticky environments.
Ear mite infestations are the cause of ear infections many times, particularly in the outer ear.
Do not be in this misunderstanding that canker causes build-ups of earwax. Canker is a creation of a thick, brown crust that is inside the outer ear.
In the time of cleaning the session, if you observe any canker intermixed with ear wax, immediately stop the cleaning process and purify the tool you used in boiling water.
Take your guinea pigs to a vet quickly to start the identification and treatment. Ear mites are not deadly, but they can cause inflammation, pain, and uneasiness.
Early treatment of ear mites is necessary; otherwise, they can create another infection.
The ear cleaning process for guinea pigs is a crucial part of ownership. Guinea pigs will clean their ears many times while they perform their daily grooming sessions.
However, it is still necessary for you to run regular cleaning sessions to remove earwax and dirt particles from the ears. Possibly, this will occur every month. That will also permit you to check the ears of guinea pigs for any changes in appearance like redness, swelling and or discharge.
As guinea pigs get older, they may get unable to clean their ears properly. Floppy-eared guinea pigs, such as Baldwin guinea pigs, may find difficulty in cleaning their ears.
These guinea pigs will need multiple cleaning sessions. And not performing so can result in adverse effects.
Ear wax build-ups can cause bacterial or fungal infections to grow. Being left untreated, these infections can turn painful and result in permanent loss of hearing and problems in balancing.
Sources: Otitis media of guinea pigs, Sustained Inner Ear Steroid Delivery, Guinea pig ear anatomy, Ear Infections in Guinea Pigs, middle ear in a guinea pig, Case report of a guinea pig, Inflammation of the Nose and Sinuses