If you have a new puppy or kitten, you’ve probably heard that regular, gentle handling of their bodies can help create positive experiences that will serve them well in the future. One of the areas we recommend working on is the ears.
Pet ears are sensitive and delicate and can be sources of problems, including ear infections and inflammation. Teaching your pet to accept handling of their ears is important while they’re healthy, so that cleaning becomes a regular part of their grooming routine and addressing problems becomes easier.
Pet Ear Health
Pets with floppy ears or dogs who swim a lot may be prone to ear infections. It’s important to keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Odor from the ears
- Hair loss around the ears
- Greasy or wet appearance
- Scratching around the ears
- Head tilt
- Rapid eye movement
- Loss of balance
- Head shaking
Any of these signs can be cause for concern. If you notice anything unusual, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Why is Pet Ear Cleaning Important?
The structure of a dog’s ear canal is different from ours. There’s an external (outer) ear which we can easily see. On the inside, pets have a middle ear and an inner ear where the organs for hearing are located. This anatomy makes it difficult for material trapped deep within to be expelled without the assistance of regular cleaning. If not removed, this buildup can cause itchiness and infections.
Other health conditions or circumstances can also cause ear infections and other problems. Some causes for concern include:
- High humidity
- Lifestyle (swimmers)
- Anatomy (dogs with floppy ears are more at risk)
- Immune mediated disease
- Foreign objects (such as foxtails)
Some pets are prone to chronic ear infections. Contact us right away if you’re concerned about preventing or managing chronic ear problems.
Pet Ear Cleaning
If you’ve been asked to clean your pet’s ears, we’re happy to give you a demonstration at our office. When you’re at home, you can keep your pet’s ears clean with the following tips:
- Begin by gathering the proper materials: cotton balls (never Q-Tips) or gauze and a quality ear cleaner. Cleaners with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can irritate or cause pain if the ears are inflamed or infected.
- Have your pet sit on the floor between your legs, facing away from you.
- Hold the outer ear away from the ear canal. With your other hand, squirt some ear cleaner into your dog’s ear. Be careful not to touch the tip of the bottle to the ear.
- Lower your dog’s ear flap, and massage the ear gently to allow the cleaner to break up wax and debris. You may hear a squishing sound.
- Allow your dog to shake their head to further break up any material in the ear canal and bring it closer to the surface.
- Gently wipe away any debris or buildup from your pet’s outer ear. Only reach into the ear as far as your finger will go.
- Dry the ear, and let it get some fresh air.
- Give lots of treats and praise before moving on to the other ear.