Caring for your dog’s ears is vital to their health and wellbeing and can help prevent ear infections and costly visits to your vet. With normal grooming and frequent cleaning, it’s easy to keep your dog’s ears healthy.
The very shape of the dog’s ear canals makes it a perfect place for bacteria, yeast, debris, and parasites to hide. If left undetected, these troublesome invaders will thrive and make your dog feel miserable and may cause painful infection. If you have a dog with allergies, floppy ears, excessive ear wax, soupy ears, or a lot of hair in the ear canals, it is more vulnerable to ear problems than other dogs.
Frequent bathing and water play can also trap water inside the ear canal, leading to irritation, inflammation and infection. When caring for your dog’s ears, especially if your dog has special needs, always defer to your vet. But for routine cleaning, maintenance and infection prevention, these cleaning solutions can help keep ears clean, dry, reduce infection, and prevent yeast problems.
Clean ears with a drying solution by swabbing the ears with large, solution soaked, cotton pads and gently wiping the inside of the ears (you don’t need to put the cotton far into the ear canal) after baths, swimming, to remove dirt, and prevent bacteria and yeast overgrowth.
Safe and Natural Ear Cleaning Solutions:
Witch Hazel, Apple Cider Vinegar, and purified water green tea (cool green tea is antimicrobial and soothing)
If your dog’s ears have dirt, debris, have excessive moisture, or your dog is allergy prone, a flush can be beneficial and will require a ball syringe to flush with. Popular ear flushes include:
DermaPet MalAcetic Otic Ear Cleanser
Halo Natural Herbal Ear Wash
Virbac Epi Otic Ear Wash
If you notice irritation or scratches on the inside of your dog’s ear (not down in the canal) you can sooth after flushing or cleaning with calendula gel, a homeopathic remedy, that is antimicrobial and relieves pain and inflammation. It is also great for insect bites, rashes and sunburn because it stimulates the growth of new cells and speeds tissue repair.
If you suspect ear mites, place a few drops of mineral oil into each ear. Mineral oil blocks pores and interferes with the skin’s ability to breathe and will smother ear mites. Reapply twice a week for several weeks to stop the multiplying of new generations.
When to see the vet:
Only a culture can determine if your dog has a bacteria or yeast infection that will require medical treatment. If you are keeping your dog’s ears clean and dry and the problem does not go away, it is time to contact your vet for the following:
- Crusty skin
- Hair loss
- Ear discharge
- Bad smell
- Brown, black or dark waxy looking substance
- Dark coffee ground type discharge which is symptomatic of mites
- Head shaking
- Scratching ears
- Pain or hot to touch
- Tilting head to one side