Your dog’s ears will hopefully not need a lot of maintenance to stay clean and healthy, but sometimes problems like infections and parasites can occur. Here’s some info on routine ear cleaning, the reasons why dogs can be prone to ear issues, and some signs that you should talk to your vet.
1. Routine care
If your dog’s ears appear dirty, you can clean them with a cotton ball dampened with mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, or a solution formulated especially for ear cleaning. The skin inside a dog’s ears is delicate – take care not to cause irritation by cleaning them too frequently. Also, never insert anything into your dog’s ear canal – this can cause damage to the inner structures of the ear.
Dogs have ear anatomy that’s different from ours – their ear canal has a vertical section leading to the outside, making it easy for parasites, bacteria, and yeast to hide and thrive deeper in their ears. Dogs with floppy ears, like cocker spaniels, basset hounds, and poodles are especially vulnerable to infections. Their ears can trap excess moisture inside the ear canal, creating an ideal environment for unwelcome guests to take up residence.
3. Signs and symptoms
Signs of ear problems in dogs can include a bad odor, discharge in the ears, and redness or swelling. If your dog’s ears are uncomfortable, she might shake her head or tilt it to one side, or rub/scratch one or both ears. If she is particularly uncomfortable, she may shy away when you try to touch her ears. If you notice any of these signs, a visit to the vet is in order – ear infections can be very painful for dogs, and early detection can keep them from getting worse.
Ear problems are common in dogs, but with some vigilance you can catch small problems before they get out of control. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask your vet!
Jackie D. is a dog walker for Running The Pack, a certified Veterinary Technician, and a graduate of the Veterinary Technology degree program at North Shore Community College.