Is it common for dogs to lick the ears of cats?

Introduction: The Relationship between Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats are two of the most popular pets around the world and have been living together for centuries. While some people believe that these two species cannot co-exist peacefully, many pet owners have found that their dogs and cats get along well together. In fact, it is not uncommon for dogs to lick the ears of cats, which can seem odd to many pet owners.

Why Do Dogs Lick the Ears of Cats?

Dogs are known for their licking behavior, which is their way of communicating with their owners and other animals. Licking can express a wide range of emotions, from affection to submission and excitement. In the case of dogs licking the ears of cats, it is often a sign of affection and bonding between the two animals. Dogs may also be attracted to the smell of the cat’s ears and want to investigate them.

The Science Behind Canine Licking Behavior

Licking is a natural behavior for dogs that starts from birth. Newborn puppies are licked by their mother as a way to clean them and stimulate their breathing. As they grow up, dogs continue to use licking as a way of communication and social bonding. Licking also releases endorphins in dogs, which can make them feel calm and happy.

Is Ear Licking a Sign of Aggression or Affection?

Ear licking in dogs is generally a sign of affection and bonding, rather than aggression. However, it is important to pay attention to other signs of behavior, such as growling or biting, which can indicate aggression. If a dog is constantly licking a cat’s ears and the cat seems uncomfortable or distressed, it may be best to separate the two animals.

How Do Cats React to Ear Licking from Dogs?

Cats may react differently to ear licking from dogs, depending on their personality and relationship with the dog. Some cats may enjoy the attention and grooming from their canine companion, while others may find it irritating or uncomfortable. It is important to observe the cat’s behavior and body language to ensure that the licking is not causing any distress.

Are There Any Health Risks Associated with Ear Licking?

While ear licking is generally harmless, there are some health risks associated with the behavior. Dogs can transfer bacteria and viruses to cats through their saliva, which can cause infections or illnesses. Additionally, excessive licking can irritate the cat’s ears and lead to inflammation or injury.

Can Ear Licking Cause Infections or Irritation?

Ear licking can cause infections or irritation if the dog’s saliva contains harmful bacteria or if the cat is sensitive to the licking. It is important to keep both animals clean and healthy, and to monitor their behavior closely. If there are any signs of infection or irritation, such as redness or discharge, it is important to seek veterinary care.

How to Prevent Ear Licking between Dogs and Cats

Preventing ear licking between dogs and cats can be challenging, as it is a natural behavior for dogs. However, there are some steps that pet owners can take to minimize the risk of infections or irritation. These include keeping both animals clean and healthy, monitoring their behavior closely, and separating them if necessary.

When Should You Be Concerned about Ear Licking?

Pet owners should be concerned about ear licking if it is excessive or causing discomfort to the cat. Additionally, if there are any signs of infection or inflammation, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Finally, if the licking is accompanied by aggressive behavior or other signs of distress, it may be best to separate the animals.

Conclusion: Understanding the Bond between Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats can form strong bonds and coexist peacefully, despite their differences. Ear licking is just one example of the ways in which these two species can interact and communicate with each other. By understanding the science behind canine and feline behavior, pet owners can ensure that their pets are happy, healthy, and safe.

Further Resources on Canine and Feline Behavior

For more information on canine and feline behavior, pet owners can consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. There are also many online resources and books that provide insights into the relationship between dogs and cats and how to promote peace and harmony between them.

References and Citations for this Article

  • American Kennel Club. (2021). Why Do Dogs Lick? Retrieved from
  • Catster. (2018). Do Dogs and Cats Get Along? Retrieved from
  • Cornell Feline Health Center. (n.d.). How to Prevent Ear Infections in Cats. Retrieved from
  • PetMD. (n.d.). Can Dogs and Cats Get Along? Retrieved from
  • VetStreet. (2017). Why Do Dogs Lick Ears? Retrieved from
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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