Cleaning dog's ears at home is one of the ways to keep your dog's ears healthy and prevent infections. Cleaning your dog's ears at home is really important for dogs with long hair.
If the hair around the ear is too long and it blocks up your dog's ear, it can cause infections. To be more specific, long hair in the ear can collect dirt and moisture inside your dog's ear and this is the perfect medium for bacteria to grow. Therefore, cleaning your dog's ears at home is important to prevent infections.
Guides And Instructions On How to clean your dog's ears
You’ve probably heard a bunch of different advice on cleaning your dog’s ears, so how do you know which advice to follow?
Cleaning your dog’s ears should be part of your normal grooming routine with your pooch, along with brushing, clipping, washing, and so on. And just like the aforementioned activities, the regularity and specifics are entirely dependent upon the age and breed of the dog.
Those of you with Cocker Spaniels, Cavalier King Charles, or any floppy or droopy-eared dog breed may have suspected that these breeds were predisposed to ear disease. And if you thought this, you would be absolutely right!
Certain dog breeds are pre-disposed to ear infections due to the long convoluted ear canals they are born with. Their anatomy prevents the ear from being regularly ventilated, allowing for moisture to become trapped and develop nidus’ for infection.
Throw in an allergy or two, and a predilection to water, and you are well on your way to having a pooch that requires regular ear maintenance and cleaning.
Ear problems aren’t only confined to those breeds with longer floppy ears. You may have a geriatric pet, with ever-increasing requirements relating to the aging process. Or on the other hand a young kelpie that just won’t stay out of the water.
So as you can see, the requirements vary substantially depending on your dog’s breed, age, behavior, and health status.
With that being said, there are a few general guidelines you can follow to keep your pooch’s ears clean and healthy:
- Regularly check your dog’s ears for exudate (fluid), offensive smells, pain, swelling and so on. These can all be indications of an ear infection or disease, and the sooner you detect the problem, the quicker you can get it under control.
- Use an enzymatic ear cleaner like PAW Gentle Ear Cleaner and some cotton wool balls on a semi-regular basis, and after swimming to keep the ear canals clean and dry. Try to avoid excessive ear cleaning, as it can become irritating, particularly if using an ear cleaning solution.
- When your dog goes to their local groomer, always ask that they carefully examine the ear canal for signs of ear disease
- When bathing your dog, try to avoid getting water in their ear canal, as this can quickly lead to infections
- If you notice your dog irritated or seemingly in pain, or you detect an offensive odor or an exudative appearance to the ear canal, go to your veterinary clinic immediately
Dog’s Ears Need Cleaning: When Should We Clean Their Ears?
Before you break out the dog ear cleaner, check to make sure your dog actually needs ear cleaning. Over-cleaning your dog’s ears can lead to infection and irritation, so familiarize yourself with what a healthy, clean ear looks like (pink, odorless, and not dirty or inflamed) and smells like (not yeasty or stinky), and clean it only when you notice a change.
Some dogs require infrequent ear cleanings, while others, such as those predisposed to ear infections or dogs who spend a lot of time in the water, may need them often. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends that the ear canals be kept dry and well ventilated by using topical astringents in dogs that swim frequently and by preventing water from entering the ear canals during bathing.
If you notice a mild odor or see that your dog is shaking his head more than usual, it is probably time for a cleaning. And if your dog’s ear looks red and inflamed, smells yeasty, or he appears to be in pain, contact your veterinarian. These symptoms could indicate an ear infection, fleas, or ear mites, or allergies, and require medical attention. Cleaning an infected ear often causes more harm than good.
You only need a few supplies to successfully clean your dog’s ears: a cotton ball or gauze, dog ear-cleaning solution, and a towel. Avoid using cotton-tipped swabs (Q-tips) or anything with a pointed tip. These tools can shove dirt and debris deeper into your dog’s ears, causing infections, and can even lead to trauma to the inner structures of the ear itself.
A note to the wise: Ear cleaning, while simple, can get messy. You may want to clean your dog’s ears in a bathroom or a room that is easy to clean in case your dog shakes his head vigorously during the process.
Right ear cleaner and wipes: Finding The Right Tool
You don't need a lot of tools to clean your dog's ears at home. Many of the items are human grooming tools, including balls of cotton, tissues, or baby wipes.
Your veterinarian can help you select an ear cleaner that is right for your dog.
- Over-the-counter ear cleaners: A wide range of ear cleaners is available both through your veterinarian as well as online. Ear cleaners contain a range of ingredients that help to break up waxy build-up, dry out the ear canals, and help kill bacteria and yeast, while being designed to be gentle on the ear. For routine cleaning, Collins recommends Virbac's Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner or saline. Products such as witch hazel, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide should not be used. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.
- Ear cleaners that are prescribed by your vet: Your veterinarian can also recommend ear cleaners that they typically sell at their clinic including Cerumene, MalAcetic Otic, Douxo Micellar, Otoclean, Triz EDTA, T8, Triz Plus, TrizUltra+Keto, Zymox Ear Cleanser, and Douxo Micellar Solution. Disinfecting solutions containing chlorhexidine should be used with caution if the integrity of the tympanic membrane is not known.
- Cotton to wipe debris from your dog's outer ears: Use cotton balls or cotton rounds.
Instructions: Ear Cleaning in Dogs
Ear cleaning is a very important part of your dog’s grooming needs. Some dogs need more frequent ear cleaning than others. Dogs who are prone to ear infections often benefit from more frequent ear cleanings.
Why is it important?
The structure of the dog’s ear canal makes it very difficult for material trapped deep within the horizontal canal to be expelled without the assistance of cleanings. This material can lead to itchiness and ear infections if not removed.
What do I need to clean my dog’s ears?
Cleaning your dog’s ears does not require any special equipment. A good quality ear cleaning solution, some cotton balls or gauze, and some treats to reward your dog are all that is needed.
DO NOT use cotton tip applicators (Q-tips) due to the risk of perforating the ear drum or causing trauma to the ear canal. In addition, the use of cotton tip applicators can push debris further into the ear canal.
Do all dogs need to have their ears cleaned?
No. While it is important to clean your dog’s ears when needed, over-cleaning may cause irritation in the ear canal and this can lead to infection. Some dogs that have healthy, clean ears may never need to have their ears cleaned.
However, it is recommended to clean your dog’s ears if you notice discharge or an odor when examining the ear. Your veterinarian can help you decide how often your dog’s ears should be cleaned.
Reminders: If your dog’s ears are red, inflamed, and painful, consult with your veterinarian prior to cleaning. Your dog may have an ear infection or a ruptured ear drum.
Guide for Ear Cleaning
- Sitting on the floor, have your dog sit in front of you with his rear end positioned between your legs. If you have a large breed dog, position him so he is sitting with his rear end in the corner of a room, with his one side against the wall. Stand on his other side.
- Grasp one ear and hold the ear flap (pinna) up vertically to expose the ear canal and help straighten out the ear canal.
- While holding your dog’s ear flap, gently but firmly with one hand, hold the ear cleaning solution in your other hand.
- Squeeze some ear cleaning solution into your dog’s ear. Use enough cleaner to completely fill the ear canal. It is fine if some of the cleaner spills out of the ear canal. DO NOT put the tip of the bottle into the ear. If the tip of the bottle touches your dog’s ear, wipe the tip off with a clean cotton ball soaked in alcohol to prevent the spread of bacteria or yeast.
- Continue to hold the ear flap up vertically with one hand and gently massage the base of the ear below the ear opening for about 30 seconds with the other hand. This allows the cleaning solution to break up the debris that is in the ear canal. You should hear a 'squishing' sound as the cleaning solution moves around in the horizontal part of the ear canal.
- While still holding the ear flap up, wipe away debris from the inner part of the ear flap and the upper ear canal using a cotton ball or gauze.
- Allow your dog to shake his head. This allows the remaining ear cleaning solution and debris from the ear canal to move out of the canal to the outer opening of the ear.
- Once again, hold the ear flap up, and remove the loosened debris and cleaning solution from the outer opening of the ear canal using a cotton ball or gauze.
- Remove any debris and remaining cleaning solution from the ear canal with a cotton ball or gauze – only go into the ear canal as far as your finger will reach.
- NEVER use a cotton-tipped applicator (Q-tip) to remove the solution from the ear canal. Doing so can damage the ear canal and/or ear drum or push debris further into the ear canal.
- Provide treats to your dog.
- Repeat the same process with the other ear.
- If your dog appears to be in pain during the cleaning process, stop and consult your veterinarian.
- Repeat the cleaning procedure as often as is recommended by your veterinarian.
If your dog has an ear infection and requires medication to be applied to the ears, clean the ears first and then apply the medication.
Guide for Medication Application
- Medication can be applied immediately after cleaning your dog’s ears. Your veterinarian will provide further information about how often the medication is to be applied and how many drops are needed.
- Gently but firmly, grasp the tip of the ear and pull the ear flap straight up to expose the ear canal and help straighten out the ear canal.
- Administer the number of drops of medication that your veterinarian has prescribed.
- DO NOT put the tip of the bottle into the ear. If the tip of the bottle touches your dog’s ear, wipe the tip off with a clean cotton ball soaked in alcohol to prevent the spread of bacteria or yeast.
- Continue to hold the ear flap up vertically and gently massage the base of the ear below the ear opening for about 30 seconds. This allows the medication to coat the entire ear canal. You should again hear a 'squishing' sound in the ear as the medication coats the horizontal part of the ear canal.
- If the inner part of the ear flap is involved with the infection, place the prescribed amount of medication on the infected part of the ear flap. Spread the medication around with your finger (preferably covered with a glove).
- Repeat this process with the other ear, as needed.
- If debris or medication accumulates on the flap part of the ear, it can be wiped away with a cotton ball soaked in ear cleaning solution.
Cleaning Dog's Ears At Home
Cleaning dog's ears is an important part of caring for your pet. A basic knowledge of dog ears can help you keep your dog's ear healthy and clean. There are a number of steps that dog owners should take to maintain their dog's health and cleanliness.
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