You might not be a licensed dog groomer, but you’re still your dog’s main caretaker. You’re in charge of keeping them happy, healthy, and clean. You don’t need to subject your pup to soap and suds more than once a month, but there are some specific grooming rituals we should establish with our canines. One of the most important things that you need to be doing at home is cleaning your dog’s ears.
There are a number of dog breeds which are naturally susceptible to ear infections, specifically those dogs with adorable and fluffy floppy ears. But what you may not realize, is that even those cute erect ears can quickly develop ear infections if they’re not properly cared for. Here we’ll provide specific reasons why you should definitely clean your dog’s ears at home.
Routine is key, especially for breeds prone to ear infections
Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds–these are just a few of the popular dog breeds that develop ear infections easily. For a dog’s ear, this warm, dark, moist environment is sadly a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast to take hold. Ears need to be kept clean and dry to prevent yeast and bacteria from turning into a painful ear infection.
According to WebMD Pets, a dog’s outer ear extends from the outside of the earlobe to the eardrum. An infection in this part of the ear is called otitis externa. An infection in the middle ear — otitis media – typically develops in association with an outer ear infection.
With this in mind, it’s essential that there is an adequate amount of healthy wax in your dog’s ear canal. And while cleaning your dog’s ears regularly gets out all that dirt and gunk, it also removes ear wax. Too much cleaning will dry out your dog’s ears and cause its own problems. Keep in mind that over-cleaning may cause irritation in the ear canal and this can lead to infection.
The regularity in which you clean your dog’s ears can depend on a few factors, such as their breed/ear shape, if they swim regularly, etc. A healthy dog ear should never be red, inflamed, sensitive to touch, or have a foul smelling odor or questionable discharge.
Interesting ear infection fact: the most common cause for outer ear infections in dogs is due to allergies.
A few examples of dog breeds which are predisposed to ear infections include:
Hounds of all kinds: Dachshunds, Beagles, Coonhounds, Afghans, Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds
Floppy and fluffy: Goldendoodles, Poodles, Maltese, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos
Floppy: Great Danes, Dobermans, Weimaraners, Vizslas, English Bulldogs, Boxers, Pit Bulls (American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terrier)
Setters: English Setters, Irish Setters
Spaniels: Cocker Spaniels, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Brittany Spaniels
Retrievers: Golden Retriever, Portuguese Water Dog, Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Terriers: West Highland Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Fox Terriers, Schnauzers
If your pup’s breed was listed above, routine ear cleanings at home are an absolute must!
Prevent Expensive Vet Visits
While most of us have a good rapport with our vet, we try to keep those visits as routine as possible. According to Nationwide Insurance, canine ear infections come in second for the most common reasons why dogs see the vet regarding emergency care. If you’ve experienced an ear infection, then you know firsthand just how painful they can be.
For your dog who doesn’t have the ability to communicate with you in a language other than woof talk, these are a recipe for misery. Your poor dog suffers in silence, and by the time you’ve pinpointed that it’s a nasty ear infection you are dealing with, they’re absolutely miserable. Routine cleanings at home are the number one way you can greatly reduce your dog’s chances of developing an ear infection. That will in turn save you lots of money when it comes to emergency vet bill time.
Because Your Pup Needs Your Help To Keep Clean!
Once you familiarize yourself with the anatomy of a dog’s ears, you’ll better understand the importance of keeping them clean. Unlike humans, the structure of the dog’s ear makes it easy for material, wax, debris, etc. to get lodged deep into their horizontal shaped canal. Once trapped inside, it makes your dog itch and sends them well on their way to developing a painful ear infection.
That’s why your dog needs you, their biggest supporter, protector, and caretaker to prevent this problem from happening before it starts. Make this a routine that the two of you share and remove the negative connotation attached. Show your dog that they shouldn’t fear ear cleanings by rewarding them and doing your best to make things fun. If they’re feeling threatened or scared, take things slow. Remember, establishing a solid routine and sticking to it is key in showing them that you’re not just trying to jam a cotton swab or Q-tip in their ear at random. Which brings us to a very important point: Never for any reason should you stick a Q-tip inside of your dog’s ear canal. Around the outer ear is fine, but a Q-tip should never be inserted inside because one wrong move or twitch could possible rupture/damage their ear drum.
When you clean your dog’s ears, you can reach for either wipes or topical solutions to get the job done. Remember that your four-legged friend is likely going to shake their head during ear cleanings. One good shake, and your room will be splattered in ear solution. It’s a good idea to handle this grooming chore in the bathroom.
Depending on the hair in or around the ear canal, it might be necessary for you to trim some of this for them to allow air to move adequately in and out. Remember, trapped moisture in your is a no-no, and this hair can create blockage should it be excessive.
Don’t feel intimidated when it comes to cleaning your dog’s ears at home. There is no special equipment needed, and once you’ve shown your dog that they have nothing to worry about, things will go smoothly.