Ears are an important component of a dog's health. Parasites or repeated infections can cause hearing loss. The regular cleaning of ears can help prevent mite infestations, which can be common in dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, and bacterial or fungal infections.
Dog ear infections occur more commonly in down eared dogs such as Cocker Spaniels, dogs with allergies, or dogs that spend a lot of time playing and swimming in water. An ear infection left untreated will cause hearing loss, as will a long history of chronic ear infections.
There are plenty of good commercial cleaners readily available. Try to stick with all natural ear cleaners and avoid those that use alcohol as a base. While alcohol does work to dry the ear out quickly, it will also burn if your dog has any irritation at all.
To effectively clean the ear, you will need your ear cleaner in a squirt bottle and either a paper towel or cotton balls or pads. Cotton pads designed to remove makeup work very effectively here.
The steps to cleaning your dog's ears:
Some veterinarians recommend plucking extra hair from inside the dog's ear, particularly in down eared dogs, to help prevent infections. Most dogs with upright ears do not need this procedure. Only down eared dogs, dogs with chronic ear infections, or toy breeds with copious amounts of ear hair will require their ears to be plucked.
You can have your veterinarian perform this for you during routine visits. If you would like to do this at home, you will need tweezers. Simply pluck the hairs out that are inside your dog's ear, gently with just a few hairs at a time. This might be uncomfortable for your dog, so a second person on hand to provide treats to distract your dog might be advantageous. Never use scissors for this process as you might accidentally cut your dog's ear.
A dog's ears should be cleaned every 1-2 weeks as part of a regular maintenance grooming program. For those dogs outside or with downed ears, weekly cleanings would be best.
Always pay attention to excessive wax buildup, dark brown waxes, or unusual odors. Ear buildup can be caused by ear mites or more commonly ear infections, which also produce foul odors. If you spot any of these problems, you will need to call in your veterinarian to inspect your dog's ears.
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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.