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Keeping Your Canine Companion's Ears Healthy

Keeping Your Canine Companion's Ears Healthy

Just like us, dogs can experience discomfort and health issues if their ears are neglected. Today, our Greensboro vets explore why dog ear cleaning is essential, what you need for the task, and how to clean your companion's ears.

Why Do I Need To Clean My Dog's Ears?

A dog's ears are more sensitive than they might seem. Regular cleaning can help to keep your pup's ears healthy and prevent a range of issues that can lead to discomfort and recurring infections such as:

  • Ear infections caused by bacteria and yeast can occur if your dog's ears harbor excessive moisture, dirt, or wax accumulation.
  • Ear mites are tiny parasites that make their home inside of our furry friend's ears leading to intense itching, inflammation, and discomfort.
  • Irritation caused by allergies can make your four-legged friend's ears red and sore. 
  • Foreign objects such as grass seeds or debris can make their way into your pup's ears resulting in discomfort.

How To Tell If Your Dogs Ears Need Cleaning?

If your dog's ears are healthy, they will likely enjoy having their ears rubbed. If they’re tender from an infection they will probably pull away from you and won't want to have them touched. So just gently massaging your dog’s ears is a great first step toward checking their condition. If you notice that your furry friend is sensitive about having their ears touched, it’s time to take a closer look and likely time to clean them.

Contact your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment if you notice any of the following signs of infection:

  • Redness in the ear canal
  • Swelling
  • Foul odor
  • Excessive dark brown, yellow-green and/or bloody discharge
  • Scratching the ears or face
  • Pain on contact
  • Head shaking

How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?

There is no simple answer to this question. Different ear types make some dogs more susceptible to ear infections than others and therefore require more frequent cleaning. 

Dogs with large floppy ears are more likely to get moisture or debris trapped in their ears which can lead to more irritation and infections. Other breeds are prone to excessive hair in their ear canals, increased ear wax production, underlying allergic disease and/or very narrow ear canals—all of which can require more frequent cleanings. Dogs without any of these issues can usually get by with a cleaning every one to two months.

Some dogs may never need to have their ears cleaned, so it's important to check with your veterinarian before you begin cleaning your dog's ears. If your pup's ears are clean and healthy, introducing cleaner into the canal could cause more harm than good. Dog ears are a tiny, well balanced, ecosystems. If your companion's ears stay healthy naturally, it may be best to leave them alone. Your vet can advise you on what the best course of action is regarding your dog's ears.

What You Need To Clean Your Dog's Ears

If your dog's ears are in need of. a good scrub, here are the "tools" you'll need to have on hand to get the most out of your cleaning:

  • Dog Ear Cleaning Solution
  • Cotton Gauze, Cotton Balls or Squares
  • High-Value Treats
  • Dog Ear Wipes or Pads (Optional)

How To Clean Your Dogs Ears

When you are deciding on a time to clean your dog's ears, make sure to choose a time when they are calm, relaxed, and have expended most of their energy through play. Start slow with the process and never force your dog to participate as many dogs can become uncomfortable and even fearful, especially if their ear is bothering them. 

Work through the steps below, offering plenty of treats and praise along the way, and perform only the steps your dog will tolerate. If necessary, you can work up to a full cleaning over time. The key is to keep the experience as positive as possible.

1. Place a cotton ball or piece of gauze in the outer ear canal

If you’ve ever used ear drops in your own ears, you know that liquid in your ear canal can be uncomfortable. It’s the same for dogs—but here’s a technique that can help.

Place a piece of cotton just at the entrance of the ear. The cotton should go no further than just inside the opening to the ear canal so that it stays in place without you holding it there, but is easy for you to remove when the cleaning is over.

2. Fill the ear canal with cleaning solution

Now that you've placed the cotton into your dog's ear this next step will be much more comfortable for your dog.

Place the tip of the cleaning container on top of the gauze, right next to the opening of the ear canal. Allow the cleaning solution to saturate the cotton and flow into the ear canal. You may hear a crackling or squishing sound as the cleaning solution works to remove the wax. Remember to keep giving your dog lots of treats.

Be sure to clean the tip of the ear cleaning solution container thoroughly after every use. Otherwise, bacteria, yeast and other debris can accumulate on the tip and introduce infections the next time you clean.

3. Massage the ear canal

The ear cleaning solution will begin to break down wax and debris on its own but to make sure the ear is totally clean, you should massage the ear canal. Spend about 30 seconds applying gentle pressure in a circular motion to the area where your dog’s ears attach to their head.

Start massaging while the gauze or cotton is still inside your dog’s ear, then remove the cotton and continue massaging.

4. Let your dog shake their head

It’s only natural for your dog to want to shake the fluid and leftover gunk out of their ears. Once you’re done massaging, go ahead and let them shake their head. Keep a towel nearby to protect yourself from any free-flying liquid.

5. Wipe away the rest of the debris

When your dog is done shaking, use cotton balls or dog ear wipes to wipe away any visible wax or debris.

6. Treat time!

Now that the hard part is over, reward your dog for being so patient with this uncomfortable process by giving them lots of high-value treats.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are your dog's ears itchy and irritated? Contact our Greensboro vets today to book an examination for your furry friend. 

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