Have you ever leaned over to snuggle your pup, only to notice an unpleasant odor coming from their ears? Before you think about getting out the cotton swabs, you need to make sure you know how to clean dog ears safely.
Most people rely on their groomer or vet because they know how to clean dog ears, but there are times where you need to do maintenance in between visits. Dogs with hairy ears or allergies are prone to infection, but you can reduce that risk by keeping their ears clean and dry. A weekly wipe down can make a world of difference in the comfort and health of your dog.
Dogs have a rounded ear canal which makes it easy for moisture to get stuck inside.
Excess moisture, body heat, and lack of light create the perfect breeding ground for yeast and other bacteria to flourish. Bacteria and yeast cause ear infections which can make your dog utterly miserable, and also very stinky. When a dog’s ear is infected, they may shake their head and scratch violently to seek relief. Unfortunately, that only makes the situation worse.
Excessive shaking and scratching can cause ear hematomas.
A hematoma forms when a blood vessel bursts in the ear and the blood collects in the space between the cartilage and skin. They’re challenging to get rid of, and treatment may require multiple visits to the vet to drain the ear. If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, it’s best not to diagnose the problem yourself. Call your vet and have it treated right away to avoid further problems such as hearing loss.
If your dog is healthy, it’s ok to clean their ears at home. You will need a few supplies to get started, and cotton swabs aren’t one of them.
- Cotton balls or gauze: It’s never a good idea to stick anything in your dog’s ear so ditch the cotton swabs for gauze or cotton balls. Even though a dog’s ear canal is long, you could risk pushing bacteria and wax deeper inside, increasing the risk of infection.
- Gloves: Clean, bare hands are ok, but gloves help ensure a sterile cleaning process.
- Ear Rinse: Before you put anything in your dog’s ears, we suggest getting recommendations from your vet. Some dogs may require a prescription rinse, but some may be okay with one purchased from a pet store or Amazon. Never use a homemade solution or olive oil.
- Tweezers: If you have a hairy dog, tweezers will come in handy for thinning out their ear hair. Too much hair can trap bacteria, moisture, and wax.
- Towels: To keep your workspace, and your dog, dry.
- Treats: Ear cleaning is uncomfortable at times, but essential to the health and well being of your dog. Make sure you reward them with love and treats for cooperating.
- A second pair of hands: Unless your dog is naturally easy going, cleaning their ears is a two-person job.
Once you gather your help and supplies, it’s time to learn how to clean dog ears safely.
- Find a clear spot to sit with your dog and help them get relaxed.
- Give your dog a treat and scratch behind their ears.
- Have your helper pass you the ear cleaning solution.
- With one hand massage the base of the ear while using the other to fill the canal with the solution. Dogs have a long ear canal so make sure you fill it as much as you can. The solution helps loosen and break down the wax and debris inside their ear.
- Massage for about 15-20 seconds. If they have a long, floppy ear fold it back over before you start massaging.
- Release your hand and allow your dog to shake the excess moisture from their ear. This part may get messy, so get your towel ready!
- Wipe any moisture from your dog’s ear using a cotton ball or clean gauze. Only wipe the outer part of the ear and never force anything inside the canal. Wipe until completely clean and dry.
- Repeat Steps 1-7 on the other ear and you’re done! Don’t forget to praise your dog and reward them with a treat.
Certain ear issues can’t be fixed with a simple ear cleaning. Call your vet right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Flaky or crusty skin
- Discharge or residue that resembles coffee grounds.
- Loss of hair
- Excessive head shaking
Do you know how to clean dog ears or do you leave it to the professionals? Share your experience in the comments.
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