Sometimes your dog’s ears need a little extra care to keep your furry friend feeling fine. It’s very common for dogs’ ears to get dirty and retain moisture. Many breeds of dogs, especially those with floppy ears, have poor ventilation to the ear canal. Labradors, Basset Hounds, and Cocker Spaniels are predisposed to ear infections due to their floppy and hairy ears. Ears that are constantly wet and dirty can breed fungal and bacterial infections. Additionally, constantly wet skin can lead to significant skin irritation, exacerbating the symptoms of ear disease. However, not all infections start with a dirty, moist ear. Some can start with underlying allergies or primary skin disease as well.
Basic dog ear care can be done at home to prevent the occurrence of ear infections. If you have a dog that has had ear infections in the past or is predisposed to skin allergies or ear problems, it’s important to keep their ears clean and dry. Also, if your dog is keen on swimming, it’s important to keep their ears dry between dips in the water. Pat your dog dry with a towel, just like drying your own hair. Allow time between swimming sessions for your dog to get completely dry for several hours. Gently dry the inside part of your dog’s ear with a clean towel or cotton swab. Your dog’s ear canal is L-shaped and long which makes cleaning with a cotton swab relatively safe. Be gentle and never lose sight of the tip of the cotton swab. Regular grooming can also help keep your dog’s ear hair under control, allowing for better ventilation to the ear canal.
Ear cleaners like AloeClens Ear Cleansing Solution or Conquer Hy-Otic Rinse can often be purchased over the counter from pet stores or veterinarians without a prescription. They may contain anti-inflammatories or astringents that help keep the ear dry. These can be used on a regular basis to help keep the ears clean, and instructions are usually on the bottle. Typically they will indicate to instill a small amount and massage the ear canal. Some require wiping while others can be left to dry.
If your pet is substantially bothered by ear problems they may need to see a veterinarian to get prescription pet medications for their specific antimicrobial effects. These medications may either be taken orally or applied directly into the ear. Tests may need to be performed to diagnose what type of infection is present. Often an Elizabethan collar is necessary to prevent scratching at the ear. Scratching will further damage the ear and lead to more inflammation and infections.