Whether your carefree canine has floppy ears or straight, keeping them clean should be part of your pet’s regular health regimen. If you’re thinking that they’re a dog and out in the wild they wouldn’t have anyone to perform this task so why should you, then consider this: your best pal’s hearing is one of his or her strongest senses that, like their eyesight, should be protected for a hopefully long and happy life. Think of it as maintaining your pet's health, because it is, actually. Ear infections can lead to a myriad of serious problems, and death can actually be one of them.
Some breeds are far more prone to ear infections than others. They usually include breeds with long, floppy ears or breeds with what are considered deep wells at the base of the ear. These dogs can include hounds and Frenchies. The design of their ears leaves them more vulnerable to problems. Swimming and frequent bathing can compound matters. Water in the ears, even the slightest drop, can lead to even more issues, if not dealt with swiftly. Due to this, if your dog’s a swimmer or falls into the prone-to-it category simply by virtue of ear design, then you should be even more vigilant when caring for your dog’s ears.
Ear Cleaning Tools for Dogs
First off, get yourself a supply of cotton balls and/or absorbent gauze pads. You’ll also want a good ear cleaning solution for pets, such as Zymox Ear Cleanser or Enzymatic Ear Solution. The latter of the two products is ideal for animals with yeast issues, as it contains hydrocortisone for itch. But both Zymox products offer antimicrobial properties for their cleaning purposes. You may want to keep a few Q-Tips on hand, but remember — just like humans — you should never probe into the ear canal with one. They’re just for detail work in the upper ear on areas with folds. Paper towels will come in handy, also.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Once you have your dog in a comfortable, relaxed position, gentle lift the ear flap up to straighten the course to the ear canal. This is obviously for floppy-eared dogs. With a large bat ear, you’ll get a straight shot immediately. Once you can see down into the ear, squirt an amount of solution equal to the product’s recommended allowances into the canal. You’ll have to work quickly at this point, because your dog’s natural reaction will be to shake it out. Begin by massaging gently at the base of the outer ear where it meets the head. You want to work it deep into the canal.
Remain Calm & Carry On
By the time you’re through massaging, your dog may be getting antsy. He or she may commence to squirm to sate their desire to shake their head vigorously. When they do, you, your work area and your walls run a high risk for ending up streaked with ear solution and the disgusting gunk it has dislodged. Because of this, I always gently but firmly place a few cotton balls into my dog’s ear before letting him sit up and shake, so that I’m not wearing the goop and fighting off my gag reflex. If they shake hard enough the cotton will fly out, but by then it’s usually absorbed the brunt of the fluids.
Settle Down Now
If the product calls for it, now’s the time to start wiping up the debris that’s built up in the animal’s ear. Get him or her settled down again and begin the process by carefully wiping away any wax, dirt or excess cleaning solution. Once you’ve finished, end by drying the inner ear with gauze or soft paper towel and wipe down the outer ear, neck, side of head and anywhere else that’s wet. With long, floppy ears you should hold the flaps back for a few minutes to ensure they’re thoroughly dried.
Canine Ear-Cleaning Tips
It’s important before you begin cleaning your dog’s ears to read the product instructions completely before starting the process. Some products merely want you to administer the solution and massage the canal. That means no cleaning before, during or after use. The enzymes do the job themselves.
It’s also important you know the signs of an ear infection, so that you don’t underestimate the condition. The symptoms include redness, scratching, goopy discharge (often with an unpleasant odor) and a dragging or rubbing of ears on rugs, surfaces, or the floor.
If caught early enough, home treatment will normally suffice. But, if the problem continues, don’t hesitate to see your vet for stubborn problems. Leaving an ear infection unchecked could lead to heavy vet bills and weeks or months of treatment, not to mention the discomfort to your pet. Remember, your pet would thank you for it if they could.