Folded, floppy or sticking right up - Most pet parents will agree that our dogs’ adorable ears are a major contributing feature of their cute factor! But puppy ears aren’t just for decoration. Dogs have powerful ears that can hear higher frequencies than humans, and up to 4 times better than an average person!
While their ears are built for listening at great distances, they can also be vulnerable to ear wax build up and eventually puppy ear infections. But what exactly causes ear infections in dogs?
Dog ear infections are a common canine problem and are largely a result of allergies or poor ear hygiene resulting in hair growth, ear mites, dirt and ear wax building up in your dog’s ears, which then causes an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast.
It’s therefore absolutely essential for dog owners to frequently clean their pups’ ears, which can ultimately be tough as our dogs often hate being held down for an ear cleaning session. Let’s take a look at some tips to make your next dog ear cleaning session much more painless.
#1 Load Up On Supplies
Before you start your session, make sure to put together a small ear cleaning kit - that way everything you could possibly need is right at your fingertips! Basic tools of the trade include:
- Soft cotton balls (but never q-tips - Never stick anything into your pups’ ear canals!)
- Tweezers for dogs with hairier ears
- Gloves, if necessary
- A nice, dry towel to keep messes to a minimum
However, the most important tool in any dog ear cleaning kit is a good ear cleaning solution suitable for your dog. The best solutions contain zero antibiotics, steroids, alcohol or toxic materials that could harm your pet in any way.
For regular cleaning, Tropiclean’s amazing Alcohol-Free Ear Wash for dogs works great. Made with 70% organic ingredients, it is guaranteed to remove ear wax and other debris from your dogs’ ear in an extra gentle way. Tropiclean also has a great Dual Action Cleansing & Drying Ear Cleaning that’s picture perfect for more outdoor-loving and active dogs. Made to clean your dog’s ears in a similarly gentle way, this dog ear cleaner has the added benefit of drying quickly - and hence is great for a quick cleaning after a nice swim or hike in the great outdoors!
If your dog already has ongoing dog ear infection issues, you may want to give MicrocynAH’s Pet Ear Rinse a try. While it’s also great for regular cleaning, it also helps get rid of buildup by flushing debris and ear wax away, and it also helps speed up the healing process.
#2 Familiarise Yourself
In the beginning, handling your pups’ ears can feel a little nerve-wracking, especially since their ears are so sensitive. For the first few cleaning sessions, take things a little slow - if you feel your pup is thrashing around too much, give them a breather and play a few rounds of catch with them before getting back to business.
When cleaning your dog’s ear, you want to first wipe the outer area of your dog’s ear down with pet ear wipes like Woosh’s great hypoallergenic ear wipes. Then, get your cotton ball wet with your ear rinse of choice and start your cleaning from the outside. Wipe down the area on and around your dog’s ear and slowly move inwards.
Once you’re done with the outer ear area, grab a new cotton ball and repeat the process with the inner ear. A safe way to clean ears is to make sure you stop if you feel any resistance at all. If you push any further, you could potentially damage your dog’s ear.
If you’re wondering “How often should I clean my dog’s ears?” - This process should be repeated ideally once a week, to prevent dog ear infections and other health issues. However, you may want to phone your vet to make an appointment if you feel the cotton balls you are using are particularly dirty, or if your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- Head shaking
- Scratching at ears
- Dark discharge
- Bad odour
- Redness/swelling in the ears
- Crusting or Scabs in the ears
#3 Keep It Positive!
Our dogs often take their cue from us - if we look like we’re excited for something, our dogs will likely start getting excited too! Use this to your advantage to make sure ear cleaning isn’t a chore for both you and your dog.
The most important thing to remember here is to make sure your pup is never feeling overly uncomfortable - as mentioned earlier, if you feel them squirming too much or making too much noise, give them a break and play with them for a bit before continuing.
A great way to make ear cleaning fun is to keep a bag of high value treats at your side, especially in the beginning. The Honest Kitchen’s delicious comfort Fish & Pumpkin Cuddles bite-size cookies is a great option! Whenever your pup cooperates with you, give them a treat to remind them how great they’re doing.
At the end of each session, shower them with plenty of praise and delicious treats! In time, they’ll recognise ear cleaning sessions as a positive experience and will be much more accomodating on your next session - they may even look forward to having their ears cleaned!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.