Blog by Irene Hislop
Most dogs love an ear rub, but few appreciate any other kind of ear care. But your dog’s ear health is very important. Not only are healthy, clean ears important for hearing well, but the ear plays a vital role in balance. Ear problems in dogs can cause pain, irritation and dizziness. So what do dog owners need to know about caring for our dog’s ears?
The underside of a dog’s ear flap should be pink and clean. Canine ear wax is dark, and a small amount is nothing to be alarmed about. But if your dog’s ear has lots of wax or any type of discharge or foul smell, it is time to take action. If there is any sign of infection or if the ear has a lot of wax, the best thing is to get the dog in to the vet. They’ll have the equipment and expertise necessary, while home care runs a risk of making things worse or injuring the ear.
If your dog is scratching their ears or shaking or tilting their head frequently, those are also signs of ear problems. Any lumps in your dog’s ear flap also merit a check with your vet.
How to Clean a Dog’s Ears
Some dogs don’t require much in the way of ear cleaning, but others need regular ear care. When you groom your dog, always include their ears. Check for any mats in their ear fur or any debris tangled in the fur – including the fur under the ear flap. Dogs can pick up bits of twigs or burrs, which can become painful and cause matting. If this happens, detangling spray can help get them out.
There are two approaches to cleaning a dog’s ears. If the dog has fairly clean ears, you can just wipe the underside of the ear flap with an ear cleaning wipe. Easy-peasy.
But if your dog’s ears tend to be very waxy, you might occasionally also need to use a cleaning solution to rinse out the ear canal. This is a messy job. You’re going to squirt a small bit of the ear cleaner into the ear and massage the base of the ear. If you hear a squishing sound, you’ve gotten enough solution far enough into the ear canal.
The best approach is to first warm the ear cleaner slightly just to avoid squirting something cold into your dog’s ear. Keeping good control over the dog, tilt their head sideways so the ear you’re cleaning is facing upward. Add a few drops of ear cleaner, and immediately cover the ear canal with cotton wool or tissue. Most dogs react to this by shaking their heads, and you want to keep the ear cleaner in there long enough to massage the base of the ear to get the solution down the canal. Then reverse the tilt so the ear being cleaned is toward the floor. Continue massaging to dislodge any ear wax. Then finish by wiping the ear flap to remove any cleaning solution or ear wax.
Depending on the dog, this can be a two-person job. Some dogs hate it so much that it is best left to a professional groomer or vet. But some special treats can be an excellent bribe to motivate your dog to cooperate.