How to Clean a Dog's Ears
No self-respecting dog wants his ears cleaned, but routinely cleaning your dog’s ears can help stop a potential infection in its tracks and prevent other long-term ear problems. Read on to learn more about how to clean your dog’s ears at home, and why you should include this maintenance item in his regular dog grooming and hygiene.
FIRST GATHER THE DOG EAR CLEANING SUPPLIES
Here’s what you’ll need:
Put everything in front of you before you begin, to avoid making a mad dash for the forgotten cotton balls while your unwilling subject escapes.
ANATOMY OF A DOG’S EAR
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR DOG’S EARS: START ON THE OUTSIDE
Begin by removing excess, dirty, or matted hair around your dog’s ear flaps and his ear canals. If he has excess hair inside his ear canals, it may be best to have a professional groomer remove it. Then wet a cotton ball or gauze square with the cleaner and wipe the inside surface, or pinna, of his ears.
Some dogs will object to ear cleaning solution squirted directly into the ear canal. Know your dog’s tolerances and choose the best cleaning method, as described below.
DOG EAR CLEANING METHOD I
DOG EAR CLEANING METHOD II
NOTE: Never put anything into your dog’s ear further than you can see, to avoid damaging his eardrum. And never use cotton swabs to clean your dog’s ears—aside from potentially damaging the eardrum, they can cause your dog pain and even complete hearing loss.
Quick Tip: Consult your vet immediately if the cotton balls or gauze emerge from your dog’s ears particularly filthy, or if massaging the ears appears to cause pain.
WHY SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR DOG’S EARS?
The main reason to clean your dog’s ears is preventing wax buildup, thus reducing the chances of an ear infection. Wax and other ear “gunk” serve as an excellent petri dish for bacteria; dog breeds with long, floppy ears are especially vulnerable—Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds, for example. When external ear infections go untreated, they can spread to the middle and inner ear, where they will affect hearing and balance. Even your dog’s excessive head shaking when he has an ear infection can cause problems, including ruptured blood vessels and aural hematomas—the pooling of blood between the ear’s skin and cartilage.
Cleaning your dog’s ears can help reduce the likelihood of these and other undesirable outcomes, including chronic ear problems. But it may also simply make him feel better if his ears were uncomfortable in the first place—it’s the kind thing to do.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR DOG’S EARS?
Opinions run the gamut from weekly to monthly to a couple of times annually. Your best bet is to check your dog’s ears for dirt and gunk each time you bathe him to decide whether his ears need a thorough cleaning. If your dog is a frequent swimmer, his ears will need cleaning more often than once a month.
SIGNS YOUR DOG MAY HAVE AN EAR INFECTION:
Consult your vet if you observe these symptoms in your dog.
Routinely cleaning your dog’s ears should be part of his regular care and upkeep, whether his ears stand high or hang low. He may not jump for joy, but he’ll be more sweet smelling and comfy, and this small chore on your part may save him from big ear problems over the long haul.
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