It’s important to keep your pooch’s ears clean. It helps to prevent infection, skin irritation and keeps your dog happy and healthy.
Recognizing Healthy Ears
If your dog’s ears are healthy, meaning there is no infection, they will appear to be the same pale color as the rest of your dog’s skin. Infected ears will appear red and they may be filled with discharge. They also may have a foul odor that you will definitely notice. Plus, your dog’s infected ears will be sensitive to touch and could cause the dog considerable pain. He will probably react to any contact by whining or cringing.
Another affliction your dog may have is ear mites. Ear mites themselves are difficult to see with the naked eye, but this may be the case if your pet is frequently scratching at his ears or shaking his head. If the mites have been there for a while, you may also notice dried blood inside his ears. A veterinarian will need to diagnose this condition and can provide you with special ear drops that contain insecticide.
If you think your dog may have an ear infection or mites, do not attempt to clean his ears yourself. See a veterinarian as soon as possible for medication and a treatment plan.
Ear Cleaning Instructions
Step one: Buy the cleaning solution
On the day you plan to clean your dog’s ears or before, purchase an ear-cleaning solution from your vet or a pet supply store. This is either a blue or clear liquid and is usually sold in a plastic bottle with a dropper tip. Ask an employee if you need help finding it.
You will also need a couple cotton pads, which can be found at any drug store. They are often labeled as make-up removing pads. You can also use a cotton ball or buy premoistened ear wipes. Never use a cotton swab or anything of that small size to clean your dog’s ears. This could cause potential harm to your dog if it gets inside the ear canal.
Step two: Getting the dog to sit or stand still
This step may be the most difficult one of the entire process, especially if the dog isn’t comfortable with someone touching his ears. It’s best to begin handling his ears when you first adopt him so that he has no qualms about them being touched. If this is still a problem for him, you may want to start handling his ears on a daily basis for a few days before cleaning them so he will become more comfortable. Reward him with a treat after each session so he sees ear cleaning as a positive experience.
Step three: Use the cotton pad
The cotton pad will be especially useful if you see any wax buildup on the inside of your dogs ears. Add a couple drops of cleaning solution to the pad. You want it damp, but not dripping wet. Skip this step if you’re using premoistened ear wipes.
Fold your pet’s ear in such a way as to expose the inside of his earflap. This should not be painful for your pet. If he resists, use less pressure and use a pleasant tone of voice to soothe him.
Gently wipe the inside of your dog’s ear with the moistened pad. The wax and dirt should come off pretty easily due to the smooth surface of the underside of the ear. Be careful to avoid the ear canal. You do not want to insert the pad too far down and risk serious damage to your pet.
Step four: Use the bottle
After you’ve removed any excess wax from the ear’s surface with the pad or wipe, you can more thoroughly clean the inner ear with the dropper bottle. If your solution doesn’t have a dropper-type tip, you can dip a medicine dropper into the mouth of the bottle and use that instead.
Simply hold the bottle three inches from your dog’s ear and place two or three drops of the solution inside your dog’s ear. (Do not place the dropper inside the ear canal.) Then fold your dog’s ear down and massage the area near the canal opening for about 10 seconds so that the solution is absorbed inside. You will know it is absorbed when you hear a squishing sound.
Step five: Let the head-shaking begin
Your work is done here. Simply let your dog go. If he’s like most dogs, he’ll take this opportunity to shake his head several times. Don’t worry; this is a good thing. The shaking motion will serve to dislodge any remaining wax or dirt, finishing the cleaning process.
Check your dog’s ears when he’s done shaking. If you notice any remaining wax or debris, repeat steps two and three again. If your dog’s ears are still not clean, this may be an early sign of infection. Time to give the veterinarian a call.
Don’t Worry About Drying
It’s not necessary to dry your dog’s inner ears. The formula of the cleaning solution and your dog’s body temperature will be enough for his ears to dry on their own. Besides, can you imagine him holding still any longer after this ordeal?
Reward your clean-eared dog for a job well done.
How Often Should You Clean His Ears?
Your ear-cleaning schedule will depend on the type of dog you have. If your dog has prominent ears, such as many of the hound breeds, you will need to clean his ears fairly regularly. However, dogs of many other breeds will rarely need cleanings at all.
Other factors which may affect the need for ear-cleanings include the overall health of your dog and whether or not he has allergies. Follow the advice of your veterinarian on this matter, and check his ears once a week.