|Ear Care - Checking, Cleaning and Medicating Your Dogs Ears|
Anyone who has had an ear infection can tell you how painful, miserable and distracting it can be. Many dogs suffer from ear problems at one time or another, but certain breeds, particularly those with long pendant type ears, are more vulnerable. Make checking the ears a regular part of you care routine for your dog so that you can pick up problems early. Entrenched ear infections can be very hard to shift and take weeks or months of dedicated treatment, cleaning and care. Starting this routine with a your puppy will make future inspections and any treatment much easier for you, but dogs of any age can become accustomed to ear inspections and cleaning / treatment.
Checking the ears and recognizing problems
Check your dogs ears on a weekly or fortnightly basis. It won’t take more than a few seconds to do – if you make it part of your regular grooming routine then you are less likely to forget. Don’t call your dog to you – especially if they are not used to this kind of inspection, but go get him or her, sit them down and gently pet the head before having a look in each ear. If your dog is not used to being handled in this manner praise them for letting you have a look, and give them a little treat. This will make ear inspection time something to look forward to! When you are peering down inside your dog’s ear you are looking to see if the ears are clean, or if they contain dirt or wax, or if there is any sign of inflammation or infection. A large buildup of brown or black type matter can signal an infection. You also want to be sure there is no unpleasant odor coming from your dogs ears. Infections are often accompanied by a very distinctive yeasty or cheesy type of smell, once you have smelled it you will never forget! Although not pleasant it is an important indicator that something may be wrong. If you suspect an ear infection or mite infestation make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Infections can be very painful, and mite infestations are irritating and itchy and lead to further problems, the sooner you catch them the better for your dog, and for your wallet as treatment should be quicker.
Cleaning or Medicating the ears
Your vet may advise you to clean your dogs ears on a regular basis if they are suffering from a buildup of wax, or if your dog is suffering from an infection or mite infestation they will ask you to administer medicated drops. Effective cleaning and medicating takes a bit of practice (for both you and your dog) but can soon become second nature. If you can ask your vet to demonstrate to you the best way to clean or medicate your dogs ears as nothing can beat being shown in person how to do it on your own dog. If it’s all a blur try the following steps.
Go get your dog and sit them down. If you have someone who can help you ask them to hold the dog and gently secure the head so that you can administer the drops. Try to be positive and upbeat about the whole situation – if you approach your dog nervously or let them know you are dreading the task they will pick up on your anxieties. If you are on your own and you suspect your dog will wriggle straddle your dog and wrap your arm gently but firmly under and around the head. This will allow you to hold the head in position while you administer the drops with the other hand. Drip the required amount directly into the ear and brace yourself to gently restrain your dog when it inevitably tries to shake its head – you don’t want it to do that just yet! Put the drops down and use your free hand to massage the drops into the ear – if you feel behind your dogs ear you should be able to detect a rubbery type tube under the skin – massage this area so that the cleaning fluid or medicated drops are taken right inside the ear. You may hear some squelching – this is fine! Hang on to your dog and repeat for the other ear. Once you have massaged both ears allow your dog to shake its head as much as it likes. When it has stopped grab a wodge of cotton wool, or some cotton wool balls and use these to gently clean out the fluid that will have come back out of the ear. You don’t want all this dirt to go back inside the ear canal.
Some dogs really object to this process – especially if it is new to them, or if their ears are painful from an infection. It can be very helpful to have a second person to help you. If your dog is finding the process stressful try doing only one ear at a time, praising and treating generously when it is all over. If you are using a cleaning fluid to cleanse the ears and your dog is objecting strenuously it may be that the fluid is irritating their ears – try using a milder solution to see if this helps.
There are some steps you can take to stop problems from occurring, regular cleaning can help to keep the ear clean and prevent problems. If you are bathing your dog try not to get water in the ears as this can lead to problems (a cotton wool ball in each ear can help keep water out). If you have cats in your home check them for ear mites and ear problems too as they can spread from cats to dogs (and vice versa). If your dog suffers from recurrent ear problems then allergies may be to blame, you might want to try a hypoallergenic diet to see if the problem can be reduced or prevented that way. Above all be vigilant as regular checking can catch any problems or potential infections early.