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All about Ears

Dog ear care is an important part of your dog care routine. It's essential that you inspect your dog's ears from time to time to ensure that they are kept reasonably clean and healthy.

1. My pet has dirty ears that have an odor, should I be concerned?

This sounds like an ear infection is a possibility. Some dogs will produce excess wax and oil that might cause some odor without an infection being present. I recommend you have your veterinarian examine your pet's ear to be sure. The veterinarian will use an otoscope to look deep into the ear for signs of inflammation and infection. I tell my clients they should not clean their pet's ears before seeing their veterinarian. What actually happens is you remove much of the evidence needed for a proper diagnosis.

2. What are some signs of an ear infection?

Unlike people, pets can't tell us when they hurt; we have to rely on other signs to let us know if a problem exists. So it is up to us to be on guard and know the common warning signs of pet ear inflammation. If you see any of the following signs, your pet may have an ear infection and should be taken to your veterinarian right away:

  • Shaking of the head or scratching at the ears
  • Discharge from the ears, especially if it is moist
  • Abundance of wax in the ears
  • Odor from the ears
  • Red or painful ears
  • Swollen ears
  • Head tilt
  • Problems with balance

3. How are a pet's ears different from our own?

First is the range of hearing. Humans hear noise between 20–20,000Hz (cycles per second) while dogs hear in the range of 40-40,000Hz, nearly twice that of humans. This is the reason that dogs can easily hear the sound of a silent dog whistle, while most of us people can either barely hear it or not hear it at all. Second, pets have a much longer "L" shaped ear canal. It is this difference in anatomy that makes pets so much more prone to outer ear infections because it traps moisture and debris providing food and housing for bacteria and yeast. That's why keeping a pet's ears clean is especially important.

4. What is the best and safest way to clean my pet's ears?

Fold the earflap back far enough so that you can see the opening of the ear canal. Then fill the canal with ear cleaner. After the ear is full of cleaner, gently massage the cartilage of the ear canal, which can be easily felt running from the opening down to the eardrum. This massaging loosens debris, allowing it to be dissolved or float to the top. Next, use a cotton ball to sponge away any fluid and wax. If you have used a gentle ear cleaner lthere is no need to worry about any fluid left in the ear. A quick shake of the head will take care of that.

If your is set on not letting you put the ear wash directly into his/her ear you can also

  • Moisten a cotton ball lightly with ear wash.
  • Put the cotton ball into the ear.
  • Close the ear flap, and very gently massage the ear.
  • Remove the cotton ball from the ear.
  • Use a clean cotton ball to wipe the visible part of the inner ear and the inside of the ear flap.
  • Check the cotton ball for signs of mites, for an unpleasant smell, or for discharge. If you see anything unusual, contact your veterinarian.
  • Repeat with the other ear.
  • Praise your dog and give him a yummy treat

5. What should I be looking for in a good pet ear cleaner?

A good ear cleaner should do two things: Efficiently clean the ear and cause no harm. Many companies will put a significant amount of alcohol in their cleaner to help dissolve these waxes and oils because it is inexpensive and it disperses oils. The downside to using alcohol is that it can damage otherwise healthy skin that lines the ear canal. Many ear cleaners will use a surfactant such as docusate sodium that helps pull water into oils and waxes or contain glycerin to soften debris. The disadvantage to these choices is that they are slow acting, need significant contact time to work and tend to leave a coating behind. - Article by Boyd Harrell, DVM

Keeping Your Dog's Ears Free from Infection

Some breeds of dogs do tend to be afflicted with ear infections, so with these breeds, you need to be extra vigilant. Breeds with floppy ears, and especially those with long, floppy ears, are more likely to have ear problems. But dog ear infections can occur in any dog, so ear care for your dog is not something you should overlook.

Inspect Your Dog’s Ears Regularly By Using Your Eyes & Your Nose!

By performing a home dog ear care inspection; you will be able to detect problems early. Use both your eyes and your nose. If you need help seeing inside your dog’s ears you may want to invest in a head lamp or scope. A tool very similar to the kind your doctor uses to check your ears. Check for redness, excessive wax build up or any other foreign matter.

Sniffing your dog’s ears is another way to detect problems early. Normally a dog’s ears shouldn’t smell foul in any way. If you see a dark waxy discharge this may be a sign of ear mites. On the other hand, if you see a pus-like discharge along with a foul smell this may be a sign of a bacterial infection.

Allergies are also known to cause some dogs to have smelly ears. If you’re new to this and are unsure have the vet check your dog’s ears. Right after the vet gives your dog a clean bill of health make sure you inspect your dog’s ears. This way you will learn how your pet’s ears should normally look and smell.

Is Your Breed of Dog More Susceptible To Dog Ear Care Problems?

Due to the warm, damp, and dark environment, as well as poor air circulation, your dog’s ear canal can be the prefect breeding ground for mites, yeast or bacterial infection. This is why, for certain breeds, home dog ear care is even more important. Some pets may require routine applications of dog ear care products to keep their ears free of mites, yeast or bacterial infections.

Some dog’s ears stand straight up which allows for more air to flow into the ear canal. Dogs with floppy ears, like spaniels and bloodhounds, are very prone to ear infections because very little air flows into their ear canals. There are also breeds, like the Lhasa, that have a heavy growth of hair inside their ears. This hair must be routinely removed as a prevention against chronic ear problems.

 Learn How To Remove Excess Ear Hair

If you suspect that excess ear hair is a problem, you may need to remove the hair that grows inside your dog’s ears. This is a routine dog ear care task that can be performed at home and is much easier then it sounds. You will want to apply dog ear powder to the inside of both ears. Make sure that the hair is completely covered, especially at the base. Once the powder has dried start plucking a few hairs at a time with your fingers or a tweezers. Always pull in the direction of hair growth and only small amounts of hair should be taken at one time.

You may want to stop a few times to give your dog’s ears a good rub. Make sure you give your dog lots of praise and a few dog treats too. Once all the inside hair has been removed, follow up by cleaning and inspecting the ears. If you are unsure about this dog ear care procedure, have your vet or a professional groomer show you how to do it.

Things You Should Know About Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Some vets recommend that owners routinely flush their dog’s ears with warm water at the slightest hint of odor. Other home dog ear care cleaning remedies include mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, or a combination of equal parts of vinegar and rubbing alcohol. If your dog has open sores it's best not to use the vinegar and alcohol because it will cause a burning sensation. If your dog is prone to ear infections you may want to use a pet ear care product that is specifically formulated to clean and dry up excess moisture in the ear canal.

A dog ear wash containing Tea Tree Oilwhich is also formulated to dry the ear canal is an excellent choice. Tea Tree Oil’s natural antiseptic, antibacterial and fungicidal properties can help keep your dog’s ears problem free. It’s also a good idea to use a pet ear-drying agent after bathing or swimming especially if your dog's ears retain moisture and don't dry promptly. There are many good pet ear care products available for routine ear cleaning that will dissolve wax, remove foreign debris and dry the ear canal. There are also home dog care treatments available that will kill pesky ear mites and ear ticks.

Even though your dog’s eardrum is better protected than a human’s, you should still proceed with caution when cleaning the ear canal. Many vets urge caution when inserting anything into the ear canal, especially cotton-tipped swabs. They can actually push dirt and foreign matter deeper into the ear if not handled properly. You can even lose the cotton tip in the ear canal.

Make Ear Inspections An Important Part Of Your Home Dog Ear Care Routine

Checking your dog’s ears only takes a few minutes so make it a part of your dog grooming routine. And when your dog’s ears need a cleaning don’t put it off.

Remember regular cleanings can prevent many common ear problems. If you think a problem may be developing that is beyond the scope of your home dog ear care routine, take your dog to the vet for a check up immediately. An infection, if left untreated, can be very painful for your dog and could even damage your dog’s hearing.

Natural remedies for cleaning dog ears – and preventing dog ear infections

* A yeast infection is indicated by an accumulation of brownish-pink wax. Dilute white acetic acid or vinegar in an equal quantity of water and pour a few drops in the dog’s ears. Massage the area mildly and then remove the loosened wax with a cotton swab. Do not use this remedy if there is an open sore wound in the ear. Vinegar us likely to irritate the dog. Use mineral, almond or olive oil with Vitamin C to loosen the wax so that it can be cleaned.

* Pau d’arco, an herb that comes from the inner bark of a South American tree is a natural antibiotic recommended for dogs. Tincture of pau d’arco with a little bit of mineral oil will go a long way to remove ear infections in dogs.

* The adrenal glands play an important role in containing ear infections in dogs. You can improve the function of the adrenal glands by giving a regulated dose of Vitamin C. Keep a watch on the bowel movements of the dog and manage the dose so that it does not lead to diarrhea.

* A natural healthy diet is highly recommended to avoid harmful effects of commercial diets that use synthetic preservatives and additives. This will help to eliminate toxins, curtail the production of wax and also support the automatic immune responses.

* Trim hair regularly during grooming to give an easy passage to air to get in and dry the inner ear thoroughly after a bath.

 Ear infections usually affect the outer ear and proper grooming can take care of practically all conditions. However, if your dog is still scratching ears too much, it is time to consult a specialist. Too much scratching can lead to a rupture of a blood vessel and cause a haematoma that may block the ear completely. Head tilting, clumsiness, walking in circles or drooping eyes indicates infection of the inner ear that should be attended only by a veterinarian.



  Treatment of Ear Infection

The treatment that is most effective for ear infections in dogs depends upon the severity of the condition. Home remedies for dog ear mites and regular grooming are effective methods to treat and prevent mild ear infections. There are a few effective natural products you can try first.

Your pet is your responsibility and when you bring a pet home, it is incumbent upon you to take proper care of its health. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you get down to thinking about it, whether it is dog or cat ear mites, the infection is initiated by poor grooming. Dogs and cats require help from owners. Regular and proper ear cleaning can save you a lot of expense and your pets from a great deal of discomfort.


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