Ear Infections: Cleaning and Medicating Your Dog’s Ears

Ear Infections: Cleaning and Medicating Your Dog’s Ears

A common complaint from dog owners is that their dog is shaking their head excessively, scratching at their ears or rubbing their head along the ground.  Often when the dogs ears are examined they are red, thickened, itchy, infected and painful.

Dogs can be predisposed to ear infections because of a number of factors including recent swimming/bathing, allergies, ears that flop over and excessively hairy ear canals.  Ear infections are most commonly due to bacteria, yeast, a combination of both in a mixed infection or ear mites.

To diagnose an ear infection, your veterinarian will look down the ear canal with an otoscope (an instrument that allows them to see the deeper structures of the ear) and take samples.  An ear swab and culture allows the veterinarian to identify the causative agent and treat it appropriately.  Sometimes dogs have to be sedated or even anesthetized to properly diagnose and treat more complicated ear infections.  It is important to have your veterinarian examine your dogs ears at the first sign of infection, if the ear drum is not intact you do not want to put certain medications and cleaners down the ear canal as they can cause severe or permanent hearing loss.

Before medications are administered, the ear should be thoroughly cleaned in order for the medication to be able to penetrate deep into the ear canal and effectively treat the infection.  If medications are placed on top of ear wax or other debris they will not be as effective.

Cleaning and medicating your dogs ears can get a bit messy so make sure you do it on surfaces, and while wearing clothes, that are easily cleaned.  Most dogs require some restraint for this process.  While one person gently, yet firmly, holds the dog, the other should hold the ear flap (pinna) up and pull it gently away from the head and instill medication/cleaner into the ear opening.  Massage at the base of the ear in order to distribute the medication/cleaner deep into the ear canal.  When cleaning your dogs ears DO NOT use Q-tips, they can rupture the ear drum or pack wax and debris deeper into the ear canal. Excess cleanser and wax can be safely removed with a piece of cotton or gauze on the tip of the finger.  You can’t go too deep with your finger but you can go too deep with a Q-tip.

Dogs that are predisposed to ear infections may benefit from regular cleanings as a preventative.  If you are unsure about how to properly and safely clean/medicate your dogs ears, ask you veterinarian to show you.

Let us know if this article is helpful in keeping your dogs ears clean and free from infection. Leave a comment below..

Vancouver Health Coach