A step by step routine for dog ear care.
Dog ear care is important because a dog’s ears are delicate instruments. Ear infections in dogs, particularly flap-eared breeds like Cocker Spaniels, are quite common. Breeds with erect ears are less vulnerable, but whatever the shape of your dog’s ears, keeping them clean is essential. This should form part of your weekly grooming routine.
Dog Ear Care: Common Ear Conditions
- Infection. Ear infections are commonly caused by dampness in the ear canal, which provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Dogs with ear flaps are the most affected since the flaps cut air circulation and trap moisture. Common symptoms are painful sensitivity, redness, and swelling.
- Mites: Ear mites are another common problem. A tell-tale sign of ear mite infestation is a dog that constantly shakes his head and constantly scratches his ears. Check the ears for a dark brown, crumbly wax, accompanied by a bad odor, which indicates an ear mite infestation. Consult a vet, who can prescribe insecticidal ear-drops to kill the mites.
- Discharge: Discharge from the ears can be caused by bacteria, yeast or ear mites. Left untreated it can lead to serious conditions like an ear rupture.
- Allergies: If a dog has an allergy the inside of the earflap will often be sensitive and inflamed.
- Foreign objects: Foreign objects, such as grass seeds and other plant matter can easily become trapped in the ears. This is particularly true of dogs that have long hair around the ears.
Common Signs of Ear Problems
- Head shaking and ear scratching
- Ears sensitive to touch
- Discharges and strong odors
- Haematomas (blood blisters) on the ear flap
- Swelling and redness of inner ear flap
Dog Ear Care: Ear Cleaning Steps
Inspect the outer ear flap and remove any foreign matter,(grass seeds, burrs etc). Gently comb out any matting and knots from long ears. Lift the ear flap and inspect the inner ear flap. You’ll be looking for signs of swelling or irritation, sensitivity or hematomas. Also, check for evidence of ear mites and other external parasites.
If the ear appears healthy, proceed with cleaning by removing any foreign matter caught in the fur. With a moistened cotton ball, gently clean the inside of the earflap. Ensure that the cotton ball is moist and not wet (no dripping).
Repeat the process for the other ear using a fresh cotton ball. Be careful not to probe more than half an inch into the ear canal opening. For this reason, you should never use a Q-Tip for ear cleaning.
Do not over-clean, as this can cause irritation and sensitivity. Use only a commercial ear cleaning solution or saline solution for cleaning ears, never an alcohol based solution. Do not allow any water to enter the ear.
Ear Cleaning Supplies
- Grooming Comb
- Ear cleaning solution or saline solution
- Cotton wool
Repeat these dog ear care steps once a week to ensure that your dog’s ears remain in perfect health.