Ear mites and ear infections can cause pooches serious discomfort, but luckily, they’re almost completely avoidable given the right amount of care and attention. While it’s crucial you clean ears on a regular basis, over-cleaning is just as likely to cause irritation, so it’s vital you learn how to do it properly. Read on to find out everything you need to know about keeping ear problems at bay for your beloved Doodle.
Why Do Dogs’ Ear Canals Get Dirty?
There are many factors that can contribute to an accumulation of earwax and dirt in your dog’s ear. Most of our canine pals love to roll around in dirt and swim in any mucky water they find, which is more than enough to cause a buildup of dirt in their ear flaps over time.
Breeds with floppy ears like Doodles, basset hounds and cocker spaniels are more prone to ear problems. This is partly because of reduced airflow, the shape of the ear canal and hair growth in the inner ear. These features provide a perfect environment for yeast infections, wax buildup and general irritation. Allergies are another potential cause of doggy ear issues, so be sure to check with your veterinarian if there’s an unexplained recurring problem.
How Frequently Should You Clean a Dog’s Ears?
There’s no schedule for ear cleaning because every individual dog has different needs. As its pooch parent, get to know its ears as well as possible. The best way to decide when to clean a dog’s ears is by looking at them. It’s especially important you learn the difference between a dirty ear that just needs a clean and a painful, inflamed or infected ear that requires attention from a veterinarian.
Understanding Your Dog’s Ear Health
Here are the main things to check for when determining whether your dog’s ears require cleaning or veterinary attention.
Signs of an Ear Infection
- Your dog holds its head to one side
- It scratches and paws at its ear(s)
- A dark or unusual discharge coming from the ear
- A foul or yeasty smell coming from any part of the ear
- Scabs in the ear
Signs Your Dog’s Ears Need a Cleaning
- Your dog shakes its head more than usual
- Mild odor
- Buildup of yellowy-orange or light brown wax
- Inner ears are light pink and not swollen
Which Ear Cleaner Should You Use?
The best cleanser products for your pet’s ears are ones that are veterinarian-approved. A professional groomer or veterinarian can also provide you with recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs. One 100% natural solution that’s non-irritating is pure aloe vera gel with the aloin removed, which is safe in case your dog licks the residue off its ear. Never use hydrogen peroxide to clean your dog’s ears as it might cause damage over time.
7 Steps for Healthy Ear Cleaning
- Lift the ear: Using one finger and thumb, gently lift your pooch’s ear and examine the inner ear to check whether your dog’s ear needs cleaning.
- Examine: Carefully look for any signs of infection or allergic reaction, such as odor, discharge, swelling or redness. Earwax may sometimes be a light brown color, but if it’s dark, red or pus-colored, there might be an infection present.
- Use cotton balls: If there’s no sign of a problem, use cotton swabs to very gently wipe the entrance of the ear canal and the ear pinna. Avoid using cotton swabs or anything hard or pointy as it could cause damage to the eardrum.
- Apply ear cleaning solution: When using a packaged ear cleaning solution, gently apply the applicator inside the ear and squeeze to release the liquid. The nozzles are designed to prevent damage to the eardrum, but be extra-careful not to insert it too deeply into the ear.
- Massage the base of the ear: Massaging helps evenly distribute the cleaning solution around the ear — and it also makes the experience more pleasant for your pup.
- Wipe away excess: Be careful to wipe away any excess liquid using gauze, as dampness is a major cause of infection and could undo all the hard work you’ve done cleaning. Gauze is best for the final wipe of the inner ear canal because it won’t leave any fibers behind.
- Repeat: Continue on to the next ear. If your dog is currently using ear drops, always use them after cleaning both ears.
Tips to Prevent Ear Infections
While some breeds are just more prone to ear problems, there are still some steps you can take to promote ear wellness:
- Dampness is a major cause of ear issues in dogs, so be extra-thorough when it comes to drying your pooch off after swimming or bathing.
- Follow the cleaning protocols outlined above whenever you see a buildup of wax and dirt in your dog’s ear.
- Take your pet straight to the veterinarian at the slightest hint there’s a problem or something doesn’t seem right. The sooner you get it diagnosed and treated, the less likely it is to evolve into a bigger issue.
Meet the Doodle of Your Dreams Today
Doodles have some of the cutest floppy ears of any dog breed, and it’s up to you as their pooch parent to make sure they’re as clean and comfy as possible. They’ll offer you love, companionship and endless loyalty in return.