When to Clean a Dog’s Ears
Most dogs should have their ears cleaned every few weeks. This is especially important for breeds with hairy or hanging ears, such as spaniels and retrievers, because their ears block airflow through the ear canal and can trap moisture, providing a perfect environment for bacterial overgrowth. Dogs living in especially warm, humid environments also may need more regular attention to their ears. Dogs typically enjoy getting their ears rubbed and cleaned, although there certainly are the occasional dogs who do not tolerate it well. This is a good time to closely inspect your dog’s ears, both inside and out. Check for any unusual odor or dirty discharge, which could be the result of an ear infection. Also check for fleas, ticks, grass awns and other foreign irritants. Look for tumors or other unusual growths. A healthy ear canal is a whitish pink and should not be brown or black. If you see any signs of infection, do not clean the ears, as you could exacerbate the problem and it could be quite painful for your pet. A trip to the veterinarian is a good idea for any dog suspected of having an ear infection. To clean your dog’s ears, you will only need a few basic tools and an ear cleaning solution.
Cleaning a Dog's Ears
The easiest way to clean a dog’s ears is to wrap a dampened soft cloth around your finger and gently clean only the part of the ear that you can actually see. This is called the external ear canal. Leave the Q-tips or other cotton swabs for another task, as they can actually push debris into the ears or, even worse, puncture the ear drum. Some owners prefer to use cotton balls, either holding them with their fingers or with a hemostat, which can be purchased at drug stores and pharmacies or obtained from a medical supply company.
You can purchase an ear cleaning solution specifically created for pets, or you can mix one up at home. Warm water usually works just fine. Some people recommend making a solution of one part white vinegar to one part warm water. This solution can be quite helpful in controlling chronic yeast or bacterial infections. Another ear cleaning solution you can mix at home is one part hydrogen peroxide to one part water. Never use alcohol to clean your dog’s ears, as it can dry out the sensitive skin lining the ears and cause painful allergic reactions. Mineral oil is also used by some pet owners.
Start the ear-cleaning ritual with a good belly rub and soothing words. This will help to relax your dog and let him or her know that this is a pleasant time for the two of you to share. Place a small amount of the solution in your dog’s ears, and then massage the base of the ears. At this point, your dog will want to do a head shake. Let him give a good shake, which will help loosen dirt and debris. Then, take your damp cloth or cotton ball and gently wipe the inside of the year, not poking down any farther than where you can easily see. It is not necessary to remove every bit of wax, since it actually acts to protect the ear canal. Repeat this process a few times until you are satisfied, and then call it a day. Now would probably be a good time for a romp, rub or biscuit.