Cleaning a Dog’s Ears: The Whys, Whats and How-tos
Cleaning my dog’s ears is not a topic I would create a Pinterest Board out of - at least, not an “interesting and must do” board. Well, interesting it is definitely not - it can sometimes be a smelly chore - but a must do, it certainly is. A dog's ears have a far deeper canal than a human's, and if not thoroughly looked after, can present a host of overwhelming problems, for canines are subject to a host of infections which can come as a result of our carelessness and neglect of their ears.
Such a chore - so why do I have to clean my dog’s ears?
If owners can understand the importance of a canine’s hearing, the structure of its ears and have a grasp of infections that can develop, they would be able to glean why cleaning them is so necessary-build up of debris and infection may result in soreness and even deafness in the most serious cases.
A Dog’s Hearing
A dog’s hearing is ever so important to the animal - it helps it to detect the things that we ourselves would not be able to. If your dog seems to overreact to sounds and you believe that there may be something wrong with it, it may be time to face it - a dog does hear better than you do. Sound, measured in hertz, is captured by a dog at the rate of 40 - 60000 hertz. Compare that to the significantly smaller number of 20-20000 hertz captured by a human and you would understand what I mean.
If a dog therefore becomes deaf as a result of not performing proper ear care, it would be an extreme pity - the loss of a cherished sense will be by no means a small one.
The features of a dog’s ear - compare these to a human’s.
A dog’s ear canal is, by far, deeper, more curvy and twisted than our own. This makes it a perfect hiding place for parasites, yeast, and mites, making the cleaning of them imperative. Trapped debris can also result in infections and the development of masses in the ear - the removal of which can be rather smelly and unsightly.
The canine’s ear canal is long indeed, consisting of three parts - the pinna or outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear, creating many blind spots that can be neglected if not careful. The existence of these blind spots within a dog’s ear will make it important for owners to really ensure that they are well and thoroughly cleaned.
Infections in a dog’s ears
The ears of dogs are prone to infections of all kinds - those of the external ear (otitis medina) and the inner ear and the inner ear (otitis interna). The infections cause characteristic discharge or redness, and sometimes a very foul odor.
Hematoma can also develop when a dog scratches itself and its ears excessively. Blood vessels in the ears become damaged, causing internal bleeding.
Outer ear infections may include Histiocytoma - when a pink, lumpish pulp begins to form on the outer ear. These look very much like engorged ticks - they are actually small tumors that mostly regress over time. If you suspect histiocytoma in you dog, do pay your regular vet a visit to ascertain the problem.
Now that I have to clean them, how do I know when my dog’s ears are infected?
Your dog may begin scratching more than usual - infections produce resulting itchiness and soreness, Excessive scratching is a sign of a problem that may require a vet to look into.
If you turn the ears back and find that they are constantly moist, it is a time for a little screening. That moisture may be the discharge emitted because of an ear infection.
Your pet may also be prone shaking his head a lot more than usual. This is a result of the discomfort that they feel from discharge or itchiness of the ears.
There is also foul odor. Infections, of course, assail the nose at times and if the ears emit a putrid smell, it is time to pay a visit to Dr. Dog.
Tips for cleaning a dog's ears -treating the ear infection
Do you clean your dog's ears regularly?
Cleaning your dog’s ears - a ten step checklist
Here are a 10 easy steps that must be followed to ensure clean ears in a dog.
Step 1: Always check your furry friend’s ears.
It is good to check your dog’s ears regularly - preferably every day - for signs of discharge or mites. This is especially if your dog, like my own, Cloudy, likes to play outdoors in the grass very often. Constant exposure to the outdoors can result in a buildup of debris that can coagulate to form masses and resulting ear infections.
Step 2: Smell your dog’s ear.
Again, this may not be on everyone’s Pinterest boards. However, some odors are not easily sensed until one makes the explicit effort to smell them. If a foul odor is detected, it is a sign that your pet needs a vet.
Step 3: Flip your dog’s ears back.
Ensure that your dog’s ears are turned backwards so that the canal is more exposed. this makes it easier to check for mites, discharge and debris that may be hidden in the inner ear.
When I first understood the vital importance of checking my dog’s ears, I turned them inside out and was really surprised at what I saw - a whole mass of debris, mites and uncomfortable discharge. The dog suffered for a long time before the dreadful discovery was made!
Step 4: Check for mites and fleas in your canine’s ears.
Mites have a knack for being able to camouflage themselves- they hide themselves in the waxy substance that is discharged from a dog’s ears. These awful creatures almost look like coffee grinds and are not detectable fugitives.
Step 5: Apply cleaning solution.
Apply cleaning solution gently to the ear - never pour it in excessively, as some solutions may cause a stinging sensation.
Step 6: Use Q Tips (for outer ears only)
Use a Q-Tip to clean the dog’s outer ear and remove solution, dirt and debris you may find.
It is very important to note that we should not use Q Tips for the inner ears - this is dangerous to the ear canal and digging too deep might result in you puncturing an eardrum.
Step 7: Use gauze to clean the inner ears.
A good substitute for the Q Tip for cleaning the inner ears is sponge or gauze. Remove all the visible debris from the canal. If there is an existent infection which persists and your dog still shakes his head uncontrollably after the cleaning, medication under veterinary supervision is the order of the day.
Remember that it is best to clean the part of the ear that you can visually see - missteps can result in bleeding and a ruptured ear canal.
Step 8 : Examine your dogs ears after they are cleaned.
If cotton balls are used, do make sure that none is left behind in the ear. This can contribute to the build up of debris and prolong infections.
Step 9 : Give your dog a bath!
I personally recommend a good bath for your dog after the ear cleaning to remove any excess canine odor. Ear cleaning should, ideally, take place as part of the bathing and grooming process.
A tip when bathing is to make sure that your dog’s are protected from water - this is when cotton balls can be used to protect the inner ear from contact with excess moisture. Do remember, again, to remove the remnants of the cotton entirely.
Step 10 : Don’t forget to give Fido or Fluffy a treat.
This helps your dog associate ear cleaning with something positive. Dogs can be deathly afraid of grooming procedures and it can be a hassle to get them to calm down before regular grooming. Reassure your dog throughout, and will prove to be a cooperative companion.
Cloudy, my West Highland Terrier, is really afraid of grooming and ear cleaning - and bathing as well. I employ a few persuasive techniques with this little dog to ensure her devoted cooperation.
Keep your dog’s ears clean - you will find that cleaning your canine's ears will prevent many problems for yourself in future. You will be rewarded with a calmer, better balanced dog and his healthier ears!