Some dogs have ears that stay perfectly healthy on their own, but several breeds can be prone to itching, discomfort, and frequent ear infections. Especially if your dog has longer, hanging ears, caring for them might fall on you. Here’s how to recognize problems with your dog’s ears and how to care for them - including some things you should not do.
How to recognize problems with ears
The first step to providing ear care for your dog is recognizing when there is an issue to take care of. To do this, you need a baseline. Get an idea of what your dog’s ears look like (and smell like) when they are healthy. The inside should be light pink in color and not have any inflammation. They should also be relatively odorless. Contrast that to when your dog is due for a cleaning: the skin will start to turn red and become inflamed, and you will probably notice a yeast-like (or just plain bad) smell if you get in too close. Your dog may also yelp or pull away if you gently massage their ears, signifying there’s a problem. Finally, you will probably notice your dog shaking their head to flap their ears much more frequently.
This step is important because overcleaning your dog’s ears can actually be harmful and cause more problems than not cleaning them at all! Wait until you notice they need a cleaning before stepping in.
How to clean a dog’s ears
Cleaning your dog’s ears is actually pretty simple. All you’ll need is a cotton ball or gauze, a handful of treats, a towel, and some ear-cleaning solution. Talk to your vet about the best option for your dog’s ears, but most veterinarians and pet stores will have reputable options. Also, if your dog’s ears look very red or swollen, a trip to the vet is probably a better idea than an in-home cleaning.
To clean, lift your dog’s ear so the flap doesn’t hang over the outside. Fill the ear canal with cleaning solution (try not to touch their ear with the bottle to avoid spreading bacteria), then lightly massage the base of the ear for about thirty seconds. Before taking your hand away, hold the towel over their ears and let your dog shake. Ear cleaning can be… messy, so the towel is important. Finally, use the cotton or gauze to wipe the inside of their ear and get it as dry as possible.
That’s all there is to it. Reward your very good dog with their favorite treat or toy.
A few things to keep in mind:
Don’t use a cotton swab, like a Q-Tip. This can cause damage to your dog’s ear or cause blockages by pushing things further into their ears.
If you suspect an infection has set in, take your dog to the vet. You don’t want to clean completely healthy ears, but you also won’t be able to do a lot if your dog’s ear has gotten bad.
Don’t use hydrogen peroxide. Your dog’s ears are very sensitive, and this solution can cause irritations.
Like many things affecting our health, a little bit of prevention goes a long way. Keep on top cleaning your dog’s ears and keep your pooch healthy and happy. For more tips on keeping your dog in tip-top shape, head to the Bio-nihilator website, and make sure to keep a steady supply on hand to take care of any little accidents in your home.