When giving your dog a bath, it’s important not to get soap or water in his ears, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid cleaning your dog’s ears altogether! In fact, they need regular care. Here’s a rundown of how to clean your dog’s ears and why it’s so important.
Why Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
When most dog owners imagine grooming their pups, they think about trimming and cleaning up the coat, but a dog’s ears should not be forgotten. They need regular cleaning, and some dogs require more care than others.
One of the main reasons to clean your dog’s ears is to keep ear infections at bay. Whether caused by moisture or debris, ear infections are no fun. By cleaning your dog’s ears regularly, you can keep cut down on excess ear wax, clear out any debris, and check for ear mites. If left unchecked, ear infections can take hold. Signs of infection include:
- Odor around the ears
- Excess scratching at the ears
- Masses around the ear
How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
The frequency with which you should clean your dog’s ears depends entirely on your own dog! Some breeds, like poodles and bichons frises, are more prone to ear infections due to the hair inside their ear canals. This limits air flow, increasing the moisture trapped inside, and can lead to infections. Floppy-eared dogs, such as basset hounds and Labrador retrievers, are also more likely to develop infection because of lack of airflow.
Most dogs’ ears need to be cleaned just once a month, but if you have one of the dogs above, his ears may need cleaning once a week. If you’re not sure, speak with your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how often your pup needs this care, as it varies from dog to dog.
Other factors that can require you to clean your dog’s ears regularly or could lead to infection include:
- Debris – Dogs that like to roll around in grass can easily get pieces of it, leaves, or other debris stuck in their ears.
- Ear mites
- Moisture – This provides the perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.
What You Need to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
You can absolutely clean your dog’s ears at home! But if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always bring your pet to a groomer.
If you plan on cleaning your dog’s ears yourself, you’ll need a few supplies before you get started. Make sure you have them on-hand before getting down to business with your pup. You don’t want to find halfway through that you forgot something!
- Cotton balls, gauze, or pads – Do not use cotton swabs as this could push debris or wax into the ears.
- Vet-approved ear cleaner
- Treats as rewards
- Any medication your vet has prescribed
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Have your dog sit somewhere he’s comfortable. The bathtub can be the perfect spot to prevent ear cleanser from getting on the floor, but some dogs don’t like the tub. If that won’t work, put a towel on the floor, or take him outside.
Hold the ear up and check for excess hair. Some dogs are more prone than others to excess hair, so keep an eye on it, as this hair can trap moisture and lead to ear infections. If you’re unsure if your dog has too much hair in their ear or not, ask your groomer or veterinarian. This may need to be removed with tweezers before you move to the next step.
Still holding the ear up, carefully squirt the ear solution inside per its instructions. Do not allow the tip of the applicator to touch their ear..
Gently and carefully massage the base of your dog’s ears for 20 to 30 seconds. You will hear a squishing sound—this is normal!
Allow your dog to shake. Use the towel to clean up any spilled cleaning solution or to hold over your pup’s head while he shakes his ears.
Use the cotton ball, pad, or gauze to carefully wipe the ear canal and outer ear. Do not use anything inside the ear. Stick to the part of the ear you can see.
Repeat with the other ear.
If your dog has any prescribed medication from the veterinarian, you can administer this after you have cleaned the ears. Make sure you follow the instructions on the prescription for application and dosage.
Tips to Make the Process Less Stressful
Cleaning your dog’s ears, especially if he’s not comfortable, can be stressful for everyone involved. These tips can make it easier for both of you:
- Be generous with treats to help your pup associate ear cleaning with good things.
- Start cleaning when your dog is young, if possible – It’s easier to get a puppy used to ear cleaning than an older dog.
- Be generous when using the cleaning solution to ensure it’s cleaning the entire ear.
- Inspect your dog’s ears regularly for excess hair, ear wax, mites, or other issues, so you can identify when a cleaning is needed.
You May Want to Take Your Dog to a Groomer
Some dogs don’t like their ears touched, especially when they’re older and not used to the ear-cleaning process. If this is the case with your pup or you don’t feel entirely comfortable administering the solution, a groomer can absolutely help.
A typical grooming session at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital includes a bubble bath, brush-out, nail trimming, and ear cleaning. This can be perfect if your dog is not a huge fan of having his ears cleaned. Our team is experienced and trained to identify any more serious issues with the ears, such as infections, ear mites, or trapped debris.
Cleaning your dog’s ears may feel like a chore, but it’s one your dog’s health relies on. Making it a regular occurrence will ensure your family member’s ears are comfortable and healthy, all while keeping ear infections at bay.
If you believe your dog is in need of an ear cleaning or check-up, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! You can make an appointment by calling 281-693-7387.
Ear infections in cats aren’t extremely common, but they do happen! If you believe your cat is suffering from one, here’s what you need to know about the signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention of cat ear infections.
What Causes Ear Infections in Cats?
Ear infections are common in people, especially children. Ear infections in cats, however, are rare. If your cat does get one, it will most likely happen in the outer ear (otitis externa) rather than the inner ear (otitis media).
A cat’s ear infection can be caused by a few different things, including:
Mites are a common cause: They’re responsible for approximately 50% of all ear infection cases in felines. The parasite is most often found in kittens, but it’s highly contagious among cats, meaning mites can quickly get around in animal shelters. This is one reason getting your new cat checked out as quickly as possible after adopting is a good idea. Another reason is that mites are so small you won’t be able to see them with the naked eye, and a vet can identify them.
An abscess caused by a bite, scratch, or other injury could result in an infection.
It may surprise you, but cats can have allergies just like humans. An allergic reaction resulting in an ear infection can be caused by food, pollen, enviornmental irritants, or another source.
There are quite a few other, less common reasons your cat could be suffering from an ear infection:
- Foreign bodies (like a blade of grass)
- Growth in the ear canal – This could be a tumor or polyp
- Buildup of wax
- Trapped water
- Reaction to medication
- Improper cleaning
- Other underlying medical conditions, such as: diabetes, autoimmune diseases (FIV), ruptured eardrum
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Cats
There are several signs of a potential ear infection in cats. The most obvious being constant head shaking, scratching, or pawing at the ear. But you should also be on the lookout for:
- A strong odor
- Hearing loss
- Loss of balance
- Discharge that could be black, yellow, or resemble coffee grounds (ear mites)
- Tilting her head
- Redness around the ear
- Uneven pupil size
- Discomfort when you scratch around her ears
- Injury due to constant scratching of her ear
If you notice your cat is shaking her head a lot, has a head tilt, paws at her ears, or causes wounds due to constant scratching, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
How Are Ear Infections in Cats Treated?
If you notice the signs of a potential ear infection in your cat, contact a veterinarian right away. Left untreated, an ear infection could lead to consequences for your pet’s hearing or even require surgery to correct.
Treatment for a feline ear infection depends on the cause of the problem. Your vet may recommend:
- A combination of these
These remedies are available as:
- Ear drops
- Oral medication
Your vet may trim some of the fur around your cat’s ear to help ensure water isn’t being trapped inside and the ear is easier to clean.
In severe cases, where your cat is suffering from chronic infections, the vet may recommend surgery. This will either remove swollen tissue that’s causing the infection or open a closed ear canal. If the veterinarian finds your cat has an inner ear infection, fluid therapy, medications, and a thorough ear cleaning that may require anesthesia might be suggested.
If the underlying cause of the infection was ear mites, and you have other felines at home, ask your veterinarian about prevention for your other cats.
Can You Prevent Ear Infections?
The best preventive care for ear infections is regularly checking the ears. Investigate for redness, discharge, and odors. A healthy ear will have minimal ear wax and appear as a pale pink. If you notice any signs of an ear infection, bring your feline friend to the veterinarian as soon as possible to get treatment before it worsens.
If your cat struggles to clean her ears, you might want to discuss options with the vet. Never use a cleaning solution or cleaning product (such as a cotton swab) on your cat without first talking to a vet.
Ear infections in cats aren’t very common, but you should still be vigilant about your cat’s ears and overall health. Mites, allergies, and other underlying conditions can cause ear problems as well as infections and discomfort for your pet. If you believe your cat has an ear infection, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you notice an odor or discharge coming from your cat’s ears, it’s time to call a veterinarian. We can help get to the bottom of the ear infection in a safe and comfortable environment, and offer treatment options. To schedule an appointment, call 281-693-7387.