How to care for your dog’s ears

Whether your dog’s ears are silky soft, perky, slightly askew or possibly even all three, they need at least occasional attention from you. Not all dogs need their ears cleaned but you should take a look now and then to make sure gunk, or worse, is not building up inside. If you’re lucky, you will see only healthy pink flesh, but odor, discharge, redness or swelling should prompt a visit to your vet.

Before you take a look under the flaps, make sure your dog is comfortable with having his ears touched. Stroke them gently to get your pup used to having his ears handled. When you do take a deeper look, move slowly and gently. You wouldn’t like someone manhandling your ears, and neither will your dog.

Frequent scratching of ears, unpleasant smells, stumbling and discharge signal a need to see a vet. Common causes of illness, such as ear mites or infection, generally require medication. Left untreated, they can cause much more serious problems such as hematoma, a pooling of blood under the skin, and deafness.

Your vet may prescribe drops or medication to be applied to  the ear. If you have to treat your dog’s ears with medicine, prepare the drops and keep them nearby as you put your arm around your dog’s head and grasp his jaw. Apply the drops to the ear canal and continue holding your pet for at least 30 seconds so that she can’t try to shake the drops out of her ears. If your dog cries out or growls, stop what you are doing and try to figure out what is causing the pain. Give her a treat to encourage so that she will be more likely to continue cooperating when you need to give the medicine again.

Some dogs, especially those with long, floppy ears and those who love swimming are especially prone to ear infections. For these dogs, regular ear cleaning with a product suggested by your vet can prevent illness. Wet a cotton ball with the recommended cleaner and gently wipe the underside of your dog’s ears, taking care not to touch the ear canal. Avoid using cotton swabs as they can increase the odds of damaging your furry pal’s ear.

If your dog swims, avoid water that that appears dirty. After swimming, dry her off thoroughly, including ears, to reduce the chance of infection. For recurring infections, your doctor may suggest drops to dry her ears more quickly.

 

Close-up of an adorable dog's face