Thursday, November 4, 2010

Caring for Your Dog’s Ears

By Suzanne Alicie

As a responsible pet owner, you want to do everything you can to make sure your dog has a long, happy and healthy life. You take your dog to the vet for checkups and vaccinations, you treat him for fleas and ticks, you groom him and keep him clean and brushed – but one area you may be missing is your dog’s ears.

Besides impacting your dog’s hearing, dirty ears can have an effect on his general health. Ear wax build up, ear mites and ear infections can occur if you don’t properly care for your dog’s ears. Basic cleaning and care will eliminate these problems before they occur. Think of cleaning your dog’s ears as preventative maintenance. The same as brushing their coat daily will prevent mats from forming, proper ear care will stop ear problems from happening.

In order to properly care for and clean a dog’s ears, it is important to realize that the dog’s ear canal is different than that of a human’s ear. The dog’s ear has two compartments. The opening of the ear canal is called the vertical canal. This compartment travels downward toward the dog’s jaw line. Then it makes a sharp turn and becomes a horizontal canal toward the ear drum. These compartments make dog’s ears prone to infection and can make treatment and cleaning properly more difficult.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is fairly simple and can be demonstrated in detail by a vet or groomer so that you can learn to do it yourself. However, often plucking the hair that grows into the ear canal is necessary and if you aren’t comfortable taking a pair of tweezers to your dog’s ear it is best that you turn this task over to a professional. When discussing ear care with your vet or groomer, you will also want to ask what they consider the best canine ear cleaner to prevent bacteria, prevent infection and promote ear wax removal.  Most groomers and vets advise an ear flush anytime your dog is bathed or goes swimming. The acid base will help dry water in the ear canal to prevent your dog from suffering from “swimmers ear.”

For the exterior canal (the visible part) of your dog’s ear, you can simply swab the area with a cotton ball soaked in ear cleaner or basic soap and water. Never delve deeply into your dog’s ear canal with a cotton swab or other long instrument; you could cause your dog severe pain and injury if you don’t know what you are doing. If you suspect a deeply embedded irritant or clump of wax, take your dog to a professional.

With proper ear care, situations such as ear mites, wax build up and infection will be rare. However, it is important to know the signs that your dog is having an ear issue.  The common indications are shaking his head or scratching his ear and a bad odor coming from the ears. When you recognize these symptoms, it is important to take your dog to the vet for treatment as these can signify a yeast infection, something embedded in the ear canal, ear mites, infection or other ear irritations.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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