How To Clean A Dog’s Ears

Posted by on September 26, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Ear cleaning is one of the most overlooked aspects of dog grooming, therefore its no surprise that many dogs will develop ear infections over the course of their lives. Some breeds are particularly prone to this, such as the cocker spaniel or any of the breeds that have long hanging ears. One of the main reasons for this is that there is poor air flow under the ear flap, causing moisture and bacteria to cultivate. Conversely, dogs with small ears can be prone to swimmer’s ear, when water all to easily flows into the ear canal. It is very important to pay attention to the ears as part of the regular grooming process.

In order to clean the ears, have the following items on hand.

1. A sturdy table with a bathmat or other rubber matting placed on top.
2. Cotton balls- Q-tips or cotton swabs will NOT do.
3. Ear cleaning solution from a pet store or groomers.
4. A soft cloth such as a microfibre cloth
5. Some organic dog treats.

Steady the dog

Place your dog on a sturdy table with a bathmat on it that won’t slip. This is an important step as you do not want to groom your dog on the floor and risk strain and injury to your back. When a dog is groomed on the floor, it has all the power to move away from you and this can also cause injury to the dog, if it tries to move away while you are swabbing out the ear you could accidently slip and injure the eardrum so always put the dog on a table where he is less likely to struggle. If your dog is big and can’t be lifted, you can place his paws on the table and lift his back end up. He should move his legs forward as you hoist him up. Or you can enlist the help of a friend. If he is unable to be lifted then your only option may be the floor. Put his leash on and attach it to a fixed object. Put your dog up against a wall and pull up a chair to his other side. This should hold him steady so you can work on him.

Assess the ear condition

Gently open the ear flap and assess what you see. Smell the inside of the ear. Does it smell yeasty or sour? Is it oozing yellow green or brown matter? Is the ear inflamed? If so this could indicate an ear infection. If there is a black tar like substance, that can indicate ear mites. If you discover anything amiss, consult a vet before proceeding with the cleaning. If the ear looks dirty without an offensive smell then this is a healthy ear and is ready to be cleaned by you.

Hair in the Ear Canal

While cleaning your dog’s ears you may notice that he has a lot of hair in the ear canal. This is typical for breeds that grow their coats, such as poodles, spaniels, terriers, etc. Most groomers and vets will recommend this hair be pulled out as it traps the dirt and causes problems. This is best preformed by a groomer the first time so ask if you can watch the process. To pull the hair, a groomer will first use a powder which dries out the hair and makes it come out with very little tugging. They may use haemostats to grip a few pieces of hair, or their fingers. The idea is to gently pull a little at a time until it is all cleared out. I would recommend having the groomer demonstrate it first hand before you try it yourself at home as it can damage the ear drum if not done properly.

The Cleaning

Taking a large and fluffy cotton ball drip some ear solution onto it and gentle wipe out the outer surface under the ear flap. Don’t attempt to poke anything into the ear canal. That is not necessary and can do damage.

Now gently drip a few drops of the solution into the ear canal and massage the base of the ear canal above the dog’s cheeks. Your dog may shake his head or rub it on the table as this is a little bothersome. Once the dog is ready then take a clean cotton ball and swab out any debris that comes out.
Now take your soft cloth and dry out the ears, as the cotton ball isn’t very absorbent.

Clean your dog’s ears once every few weeks or more often if they seem particularly dirty or if more debris comes up as a result of the initial cleaning.

The Reward

Here’s the most important part. Reward your dog with a healthy organic dog treat from the doggie bakery or Whole Foods store. Give him lots of praise. At no time do you want your dog to associate grooming with something unpleasant. It’s for his health so you want your dog to remember it as a pleasant experience. Why organic? Remember this is for your dog’s health so we don’t’ want to reward his good behaviour with some junk food. Now carefully lift your dog down from the table or if he’s a big guy, guide him down to the floor by placing your arm under his tummy, supporting the hips as you allow him to jump to the floor.

Now your dog is feeling great and he’ll probably look at you with tail wagging, expecting you to play. So go for it! You both have deserved it! Congrats for being a responsible pet owner!

by Melanie Cossey



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