Caring for Your Dog's Ears

Grooming is an essential part of caring for your dog. What many dog owners fail to realize is the extent of necessary ear care for dogs. Regardless of the shape of your dog's ears, it's important to establish a weekly ear care routine to prevent ear wax buildup, ear mites, and ear infections. Some dogs, especially those with dangling ears, are prone to ear infections. If your dog exhibits signs of ear discomfort, like constant scratching or rubbing, look inside the ear. Symptoms such as redness, swelling, or discharge should raise concern.

Redness or swelling might be a result of excessive scratching or irritation, but discharge usually indicates a more extensive problem. Take your dog to the veterinarian to have the problem diagnosed as soon as you notice the symptoms. An ear infection generally clears up with antibiotics. Your veterinarian may prescribe both an oral and a topical medication depending on the severity of the infection. After the ear infection clears up, it is important to start a weekly dog ear care regimen to prevent future outbreaks.

Choose a dog ear cleaner

The goal of a dog ear cleaning solution is to eliminate bacterial and fungal buildups without causing more irritation or injury. An ear cleaning solution should minimize the risk of infection and neutralize any odors. A dog ear care regimen helps prevent reinfection and keeps ears clean and smelling good.

Prepare for dog ear care

Before you start the cleaning process, lay out all of your supplies in a small, enclosed room. You will need your dog ear care cleaning solution, cotton balls, gloves, and a treat. The bathroom is usually a good place for a cleaning, since your dog won't be able to run away and it will localize the mess.

Begin with your dog's outer ear

Dampen a cotton ball with the ear cleaner and gently wipe the visible areas of your dog's outer ear. Bacterial and fungal spores may become trapped in the fur, on, in and around the ear. Thoroughly clean this area first. It may take several cotton balls, but continue wiping gently until the cotton ball stays clean.

Clean your dog's inner ear

After the visible part of your dog's ear is clean, it is time to start attacking buildup in the ear canal. A dog's ear canal is L-shaped, making inner ear care a challenge. Apply several drops of ear cleaning solution directly into your dog's ear canal. Gently rub the base of the ear to help the fluid work its way deep into the canal. It needs to go as deep as possible to bring debris and buildup to the surface. Your dog will probably want to shake his or her head, but it is important to allow the solution a bit of time to work. After about a minute, let your dog shake off the excess fluid.

Give your dog a treat

Help your dog make a positive association with routine ear care by giving a treat afterward. This can help reduce his or her anxiety during future cleanings.

Max's Tip

In many cases, debris can accumulate inside the hair, which can cause strong odors. By trimming ear hair, you can help eliminate part of the problem.