Cleaning your dog's ears is an important part of their grooming needs. Today, our Perry vets explain the importance of cleaning your dog's ears and how you can go about doing so.
Why You Should Clean Your Dog's Ears
Ear cleaning is a key component of your dog’s grooming requirements. Some dogs will require more frequent ear cleanings than others. Dog breeds that are prone to ear infections will benefit from more frequent ear cleanings.
The structure of your dog’s ear canal makes it difficult for debris stuck within the ear to be expelled without a thorough cleaning. This debris can lead to itchiness and ear infections if it is not cleaned out.
Ear Infections in Dogs
If a dog experiences inflammation of the ear canal due to issues such as atopic dermatitis or food hypersensitivity, the ear canal produces excessive ear wax that is more susceptible to infection.
Common signs of an ear infection may include:
- Pawing or rubbing at the ear
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
- Odor in the ear
- Redness inside of the ear
- Head shaking
- Tilting head
- Crusts or scabs inside the ear
- Swelling of the ear
Severe ear infections in dogs can lead to symptoms such as:
- Hearing loss
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
Treating Your Dog's Ear Infection
Dogs that have a history of ear infections can benefit from routine cleanings with an ear cleanser to help remove excessive debris. The process of ear wax slowly moving out of the ear becomes overwhelming when the canals are inflamed, while also slowing down with age.
If your pup has an ear infection your vet will take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your pet's ear infection. Your vet may also prescribe a topical solution and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.
Carefully following your veterinarian's instructions will be essential to clear up your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.
Using an Ear Cleaning Solution
It is highly recommended to use a good quality ear cleaner. Cleaning your dog's ears with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol can irritate the ear canal.
Some ear cleaners use antibacterial or antifungal ingredients to help prevent ear infections. Some cleaners are also better at removing wax build-up. Your veterinarian can help you decide the best ear cleaning solution for your dog.
How Often to Clean Your Dog's Ears
While it is important to clean your dog’s ears when needed, over-cleaning may irritate the ear canal which can lead to infection. Dogs that have healthy, clean ears, may never require an ear cleaning unless they experience an infection.
For dogs that are prone to infection, cleaning the canals with a solution every one to two weeks may help prevent recurrent infections. During an active infection, your vet may recommend more frequent cleanings to help treat the infection.
It is recommended to clean your dog’s ears if you notice discharge or an odor when examining the ear. Your vet can help you determine how often you should be cleaning your dog's ears.