Real-world problems of big-eared dogs

Real-world problems of big-eared dogs

Health & Safety

Dogs with big ears, they have such endearing features, but those long lugs can cause them some issues. Rather than using them for a complete radar system for incoming threats, friends or the neighbourhood cat, these long ears can and do suffer from several problems and that is the basis of this Pets4Homes article. We’ll look at five real-world things that these four-legged friends have to contend with. For those who don’t have a dog with big ears, this article is still valuable as some of the issues can cause problems with those dogs sporting small ears.

Long-eared dogs commonly affected by these conundrums are:

The spaniels such as:

Hounds such as:

As well as Beagles, Irish Setters, and others!

The main point is taking note of the kind of conditions and issues that can occur. Bear in mind, some dogs absolutely hate having their ears touched or checked. The younger they are handled and reassured with their ears, the easier the job. If your dog is older and dislikes their ears being touched, then do a little each day, for a few minutes to get them used to it. Gradually, you should find they don’t mind them being looked at, cleaned or groomed.

It really is all about patience, but it will pay off for you in the end.

Airing them!

If you leave something in warm or humid conditions and there are bacteria present, sooner or later that area will start to get a bit smelly. It’s the same with big ears on dogs because the ear flap covers the ear opening itself so much, air doesn’t get to it and the ear can suffer. Smelly or irritated ears can be a nightmare for your pooch. The way to help this is to try and air them as much as possible. It is easier said than done, but when they are asleep, lift the ear flap gently up so air can get to the opening, even for a short time. Don’t ever be tempted to use a clothes peg to hold them up - this will cause pain.

Food and drink

Your dog is tucking into a bowl of food or having a well-deserved drink of water after zooming around the garden and guess what? Their ears fall into the bowl getting covered in food or water! Now, water is not too much of a problem (although they may drip over the floor), but food can be a hassle. There are a couple of ideas to try to help this problem. One is to change their bowl; a different size can help and large pets shops sell bowls for big-eared dogs! The other is to use a doggy hairnet. These are available in various guises to help keep your dog's ears out of the way while they eat. Look online for them or ask your local pet store.

Fur problems

You know what it’s like, you are sitting there watching television or using your laptop when suddenly you get an almighty tickle in your ear! It’s really annoying and makes you want to scratch it immediately, and you inevitably stick your finger in your ear and have a wiggle. Imagine then, a poor dog, their ears can be full of hair tickling them - and long-eared dogs can have the most. How annoying would that be? Some dogs have their ears plucked just inside to help this problem - a groomer will mostly be able to do this. It also helps by letting more air inside.

Cleaning them out

Okay, this is not the nicest job in the world, but some dog owners love it (it gives them a sense of satisfaction), and ultimately it helps your dog. Keeping their ears clean with a wad of cotton wool and a really good ear cleaner, ideally, from your vet, can shift all sorts of muck. It will also make your dog feel happier and help cut down on smelly ears. Once they are cleaned, be prepared for your dog to go a bit loony - shake their head around, dive down and try and rub their ears on the floor, etc. This phase doesn’t last long, and then they might just ignore you for the rest of the day. Trust us, a dog with clean ears is worth the sulking.

Vacuuming leaves

If you have a dog with long ears, especially a dog that likes to sniff such as a cocker spaniel, their ears become a magnet for picking up debris. This means as they walk (and inevitably kick their own ears as they sniff) leaves, twigs and even grass seeds can get caught up in the ear fur. Now, this debris is not a good fashion accessory, in fact, it can be a real problem, especially if a grass seed finds its way into the skin or ear opening. So, after a walk, make sure you take any debris out of the fur in their ears and discard it before it causes a problem.

So, you can see that although these dogs are handsome hounds, they can have a few problems in the hearing furniture department! There are things, we, as their owners can do to help, much of it is keeping them debris-free on the outside (and under the ear flap), and avoiding dirt build up inside.

It may seem a worry to try and keep them clean, but in the long run, your dog will be much happier, have a reduced risk of further problems and it can be much cheaper. Even having the ears professionally groomed can save on your pocket, for example, a foreign body removal, if severe, can set you back up to £1000, so good care is much better!

If your dog does give you causefor concern when it comes to their ears, please speak to your vet for further advice. Your veterinary practice may even offer a vet nurse clinic where the nurses can show you the best way to clean your dog's ears without fuss.

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