Ear infections and parasitic infestations like ear mites are quite common in dogs, and some dogs seem to get more than their fair share of problems of this type, which can be challenging to fully eradicate.
This means that preventative ear cleaning and maintenance is a regular part of life for many dog owners, and this means that your vet may well advise you to clean your dog’s ears at home if this is warranted.
Dogs with long, drooping ears and so, closed ear canals tend to be more prone to developing ear problems than most, such as the Basset hound, among other dogbreeds. This means that keeping their ears clean and in good condition is vital, and can help to prevent problems that are hard to resolve later and that may be painful and irritating for your dog.
Cleaning your dog’s ears should theoretically be a fairly quick and simple process, but this does depend on you knowing what to use and how to do it properly, and getting your dog used to accepting the process happily and without fuss.
As we all know, having one’s ears cleaned (even if we are doing it ourselves) can be an odd sensation, and if you have an infection or your ears or otherwise sore, it can be quite unpleasant. The same is true for your dog, who of course lacks the same frame of reference to know why their ears are being cleaned and why they need this done, and this can make everyday ear cleaning for dogs stressful and problematic.
You can make ear cleaning less stressful for your dog and easier and more effective too by following the right approach and knowing what not to do too – and this is what we will look at within this article.
Read on to learn about five common errors to avoid when cleaning your dog’s ears.
We all know that cotton buds and other things should be used on the external parts of the ear only and not pushed into the ear, and yet this is something that all too many people forget when cleaning the ears of a dog.
Cotton buds and similar objects are not really suitable for cleaning a dog’s ears; a soft cloth and other tools that are not designed to be pushed into the ear are much better.
Pushing a cotton bud into the ear canal may damage the delicate ear drum; it also pushes wax, debris and dirt into the ear, where it can form a hard impaction that is both painful and will affect your dog’s hearing (and even potentially balance) and will be hard to correct.
Clean the outside of the ear canal only and don’t push anything into your dog’s ear canal itself.
If your vet advises you to clean your dog’s ears either as part of preventative maintenance or to tackle a problem, they will recommend or provide a product for you to use. Off-the-shelf dog ear cleaning solutions are not suitable for all types of problems, so use a product recommended by your vet to ensure that it is the right product, and that you use it in the right way.
Not all dogs take well to having their ears cleaned, and getting them used to it takes time and needs to be tackled carefully to avoid problems later on. If your dog is making life difficult for you when you clean their ears, this can make the process harder and more unpleasant for your dog, and make your cleaning less effective too.
Keep your dog calm and comfortable and reassure them when they get stressed out, but also keep things business-like and efficient, as this will help a lot too. Make sure you have the right products to care for your dog’s ears and get everything ready before you start, and secure your dog properly so that they cannot move around too much, and are not able to nip or paw at you!
You might find that having an assistant can help with this, but in general, try to keep ear cleaning sessions short and positive, and praise and reward your dog afterwards so that they associate the process with positive things.
Leaving moisture in the ears after cleaning is a bad idea (unless your vet has told you to use a certain product that needs to remain in the ears, like ear drops or medications) and can worsen or even cause issues for your dog.
This is especially a problem for dogs with ear flaps that cover the ear canal, as this traps moisture inside. Use a clean, soft cloth to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after cleaning, and don’t leave your dog’s ear folds wet or damp.
Cleaning your dog’s ears might be something you wish to get over and done with as soon as possible, but you should also use cleaning sessions as an opportunity to look for signs of problem or issues, and if you are treating your dog’s ears, to check how things are going.
Unexplained soreness, redness, excessive earwax or a black, grainy discharge (which may indicate the presence of ear mites) are all warning signs of problems, so if your vet is not already aware of them, talk to them to get their advice on how to proceed.