A dog’s ears are without doubt one of the most sensitive regions of the animal’s body. Our furry friends use their ears for everything from detecting can openers (from several rooms away), to monitoring when the neighbors let their cat out. They also communicate important emotions like curiousity, happiness, and “when’s dinner?”
Lots can go wrong with a dog’s ears. Everything from ear mites, infections, irritations and food allergies cause discharge, build-up, scabbing and scarring. Most ear problems will cause your dog some level of discomfort, and severe cases can even lead to permanent hearing loss. A lot of problems can be prevented if you keep an eye on your dog’s ears and clean them regularly. Happily, cleaning your dog’s ears is really pretty simple – you just need a cleaning solution and something to apply it with.
Commercial ear cleaner for dogs can be purchased at pet supply stores. You may have to choose between alcohol-based and alcohol-free formulations. The alcohol has a drying effect, so if your dog has super dry skin or if you need to clean their ears quite often due to persistent discharge, you might go with alcohol free.
If you prefer the homemade approach, use either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Mix one-part vinegar to one-part water, or if using peroxide, use a ratio of one-part peroxide to two-parts water.
Start by showing your dog some love – we want him to associate ear cleaning with happy times. Putting your dog at ease first will get the job done with as little stress to your pup as possible.
Cleaning solution is best applied using large cotton balls or gauze pads. Don’t use cotton swabs, as these will allow you to penetrate too deeply into the ear canal, risking injury. Grasp the cotton ball or pad with your fingers, and soak it with cleaning solution. Be generous, but don’t use so much solution that it drips off the cotton. If you get too much solution on the cotton, just squeeze the excess out so that it isn’t dripping anymore.
Now fold the ear flap back and get in there with your damp cotton. Wipe gently, then a little more firmly if necessary to scrub dirt off the ear leather. Now go deeper. Dog’s ears are deeper than ours so push down gently as far as you can go with your fingers and the cotton. As long as you’re using your fingers and cotton balls or pads, you can’t go too far. Twist your wrist a few times and pull the cotton out. (Try not to gross out over what you see – eewww.) Repeat with clean cotton & additional cleaning solution until the cotton comes out clean. If you’re squeamish, you might want to wear latex gloves throughout this process, especially if your dog has food allergies or an ear infection is causing heavy discharge.
Finish Up With Love
If your dog wants to shake a little after you’re done cleaning, go ahead and let it happen. This lets your pup feel he has some control over the whole affair. Give him some more love, and then repeat on the other ear. Finish up with more love and whatever form of “treat” you like to use.
If all this sounds like too much to deal with by yourself, don’t worry. If your dog is seeing us regularly, ear cleaning is taken care of as part of our regular Tender Loving Groom service. We’ll let you know if we see anything that should be checked out by a health professional. A lot of problems can be prevented if you keep an eye on your dog’s ears, clean them regularly, and see a vet when redness, bloody or persistent heavy discharge, or unusual heat is present. If you (or we) are checking their ears regularly, you’ll know when something is not right.