Should you be cleaning your dog’s ears? The answer is ‘Yes’.
Do All Dogs Need Their Ears Cleaned
The causes of ear infections include lack of air flow, hair inside the ear canal, mites and allergies. All dogs are therefore at risk of ear infections, so cleaning ears is part of being a dog owner.
Certain breeds, however, are more prone to developing ear infections. Dogs with floppy ears. (like a Cocker Spaniel) vs. stand-up ears, don’t have good air flow, so debris and moisture get trapped and can become infected.
Other breeds, like Poodles, grow hair inside the ear canal which can also limit air flow and lead to ear infections.
The frequency will depend primarily on the type of ears your dog has, but even within a breed, how often it is needed can vary.
You don’t want to do it so often that you irritate his ears. On the other hand, you want to do it often enough that he doesn’t get an infection. So, how often for your particular dog is a good question for your vet.
Some dogs may require it monthly, others weekly or bi-weekly. If he develops an ear infection, your vet might instruct you to clean them every day or two until the infection clears up. It is important for them to be clean if on medication for an infection.
When their ears look or smell dirty, it is time to clean them. A dog’s ears should never smell bad.
If your dog’s ears are inflamed or he is shaking his head frequently or scratching at his ears, he may have an infection or one is beginning.
An ear infection can be very painful, so it is important to get to a vet quickly if you suspect a problem.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
You should talk to your vet about a good ear cleaner that will be gentle and safe for your dog. You will also need cotton balls or gauze. Your vet will be able to show you how to clean your dog’s ears so you feel comfortable doing and your dog doesn’t stress because he senses your nervousness.
It can get messy sometimes when cleaning their ears, especially if they are really dirty. If doing it at a time when you aren’t bathing him, it might be a good idea to secure a towel around his neck and chest to keep him from getting ear cleaner all over his fur.
You will want to let the ear cleaner drip into the ear canal. Then, gently massage the base of the ear. This will allow the cleaner to suds up so it can break down the wax and dirt. He will likely want to shake his head, and that’s OK. However, you might want to lightly drape a towel over his head to keep everything from flying everywhere.
Use a cotton ball or gauze to gently wipe the outside and inside of the ear. You want to get as far down as easily possible with your finger, using the cotton ball or gauze. Don’t use Q-tips. Keep wiping until cotton balls come out clean. The vet may give you further instructions if he has an infection.
Should You Pluck The Hair in Your Dog’s Ears?
Take your vet’s advice in regards to plucking the hair in your dog’s ears. If he advises that you should, be sure to get instructions from him in this regard.
It is usually best to do the plucking separately from cleaning the ears. Wait a few days after plucking before cleaning the ears to give the skin time to calm down. In this way, the cleaner won’t sting or cause further irritation.