Your Dog’s Ears: How to Properly Clean and Care for Them

Once you have your dog situated properly, you can begin to examine and clean his ears. At one time or another, your dog will surely suffer from some type of ear infection. Even minor problems could lead to costly and painful infections so if you are not absolutely sure about what you are dealing with, you should take him to the vet. Many times, dogs suffer from reoccurring infections and once confirmed a couple of times, your vet may be able to prescribe medications based off his history and common symptoms, without the costly vet trips. I have a Labrador retriever that has gotten the same sort of ear infections for ten years now. The vet and I both know what works and what doesn’t so we can easily work together to solve the problem.

The best thing to begin with if you suspect a mild ear infection is an ear wash solution with a drying agent. If your dog has an irritated flap or canal, gently open the ear as much as possible and squeeze the solution into the opening. If his inner ear flap is dirty or waxy, put some ear wash onto a cotton ball or washcloth and gently wipe his outer ear clean. Then, insert the tip of the solution bottle into the ear canal about a half inch or so. Once inserted, squeeze the bottle until the solution pools in the ear. This is when your dog will want to jump and run, so be diligent in holding him down. Once the solution is pooled, close the ear flap and massage the outside of the ear and into the ear canal. You will want to do this until most of the solution is absorbed. Do this once or twice per day until the problem is subsiding.

If you notice a lot of wax in your dog’s ears you may want to use a cotton swab to get it out. Dog ear anatomy is quite different than human ear anatomy and caution must be taken when putting anything into them. Dogs have a rigid 90 degree angle in their ear canals and pushing the swab too hard could puncture their ear drums. Try not to let it go deeper than you can see. You also don’t want to push debris deeper into the ear canal, so if you don’t think you can fish the object out with the swab, don’t use it at all.

Using Ointments and Solutions
Medicated ointments, drops, or solutions only work when they can trickle into your dog’s ear. If there is anything in the way it must be removed before using any medication. Remove wax and try to reduce swelling before administering any ointments. Before squeezing the ointments into the ear canal, gently pull the ear up and out from the dog’s head to straighten the ear canal. This will allow for maximum absorption and distribution of the medication.

One important thing to keep in mind is that air flow is critical for healthy ears; that’s why so many dogs with floppy ears get ear infections.  While you can’t do anything about floppy ears, you can keep them as clean as possible. Pluck any hairs that clog up the opening to the ear canal, and be sure to regularly treat the ears with an ear cleansing solution which will clean, dry and acidify the ears.

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