Regardless of whether you are a new puppy owner or if you have had the joy of having dogs your whole life, it is very important to make sure their ears are clean and maintained properly. As there are many different breeds of dogs, there are also many different ways of caring for their ears. Some breeds have more ear problems than others, and it’s important no matter what breed that you know the right way to tend them. Water dogs such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Chesapeake Bay retrievers, to name a few, could be more inclined for ear infections from being in the water. Other dogs with long and floppy ears can have problems as well, because they cannot air out as easily if they get damp or dirty. Try to check your dog’s ears on a weekly basis.
Many dogs absolutely love to have their ears scratched and rubbed from the outside. They will lean in to allow you to really give ‘em a good rub and maybe even groan in delight. Sometimes, however, you can actually tell if a dog has some ear issues by giving them an outside ear rub. If your dog yelps or pulls away, it could be a sign of infection. If you notice redness, swelling, a foul smell, a lot of dirt, or discomfort, then your dog most likely has an ear infection. Call and make an appointment immediately to take him to the vet to get it treated.
Ask a Vet First
For maintaining healthy ears for your dog, you can try a few at home cleaning solutions, or get a specialized one from your veterinarian. If you get it from your vet, then have them show you how to properly use it before you try it at home. If you would like to use an at-home method, make sure to be very careful and follow directions. If at-home ear cleaning goes wrong, it can cause serious damage. If you are unsure at all about trying the following, just allow your vet to do it with you the first time, so you can feel confident in your approach.
Make Things Easier for Both You and Your Dog
Though most dogs love having the outside of their ears scratched as mentioned before, the inside can be a whole other thing. Your dog may not like you messing around with their inner ear, so make sure to calm the dog before working on him. Let him sit comfortably or lay down and scratch him in some of his most favorite spots. Talk to him soothingly and use gentle touch when lifting the ear to reveal the inside. There are two different at home ear cleansing solutions that work quite well and are safe for both the dog and the owner.
You can use either one part white vinegar to one part water, or you can use one part hydrogen peroxide to one part water. The solution may tickle as it loosens up the dirt, causing the dog to shake his head. This is more than fine, as it aids in softening the grime. After your dog is done shaking, gently call him back and, using that same soothing voice and gentle pets, get him to sit or lay down. Take a cotton ball or gauze wrapped around your finger to carefully dab out the rest of the dirt and the solution. If there is an excess amount of grime on the cotton when you remove it, think about making an appointment with your vet to get his ear cleaned by a professional so it doesn't build up more and turn into an infection.
What NOT To Do
Do not try to force your dog. Instead, take the time to get him used to having you clean his ears.
Do not use alcohol as it can dry out the ear too much.
Do not use too much liquid. Pour a very small amount of an appropriate solution into the ear and just let the dog be for a minute.
Do not use Q-tips, as these can hurt or irritate your dog and it is easy to accidentally insert a swab too deep and cause serious damage.
Do not clean your dog’s ears too often, as this can remove necessary bacteria that helps protect the dog from infections.
Now that you know this preventative skill, you can be active in your dog’s ear health. With with your veterinarian’s guidance, you can help prevent an ear infection and learn to detect many health issues that accompany ear infections. As always, if you have any thought or worry that your dog might have a problem, do not hesitate to take him to your vet. At the very least, clean ears mean that your dog now has absolutely no excuse not to come when you call!