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September 22, 2014

Dear Dr. Wise,

How do we clean our dog’s ears?


Dirty ears are a common problem that can affect any dog. Dogs with floppy ears, like a Labrador, tend to have more problems than dogs with ears that stand up, like a German Shepard Dog, because moisture and dirt becomes trapped within the ear canal. It is important to keep an eye on your dog’s ears because a dirty ear can quickly become infected. Common causes of infection include bacteria and yeast.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is something that you can do in the comfort of your own home or backyard. All you need is cotton balls and ear cleaning solution which can be purchased at your local vet’s office and pet supply store. Using Q-tips are not recommended because it can push dirt deeper into the ear canal. If you are planning to clean ears at home, it is a great idea to get them used to having their ears touched and handled at an early age before there is a problem.

To clean the ears, gently lift the ear straight up and fill the ear canal with the cleaning solution. There is a layer of tissue between the outer ear and middle/inner ear so you do not need to worry about filling their head up with cleaning solution. Be aware that most dogs will try to shake their head immediately after putting the solution in the ears so I recommend doing this outside unless you want to clean ear goo off the walls. Once the ear canal is full of solution, gently message the base of the ear to break up any debris or dirt in the ear canal. If you are outside, you can let them shake their heads to help bring out the dirt from the deeper parts of the ear. Then take the cotton ball with your finger and gently wipe out the dirt and excess cleaning solution until it appears clean.

If you are going to clean ears at home, you must watch out for redness, pain, abnormal appearing skin, a nasty smell coming from the ears, or ears that quickly become dirty again after cleaning as these could be signs of infection. If any of these signs are seen or smelled, it is very important to have your dog seen by your local veterinarian so he/she can determine the cause of infection and provide the appropriate treatment. 

Dr. Wise

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