According to Animal Humane Society, keeping the inside surfaces of your dog’s ears clean will not only feel good to your dog, but is good way to help prevent ear infections. Examining the outside surface will also alert you to the presence of wood ticks, fleas, or anything else unusual.
Clean your dog’s ears about once a week.
How to get started?
You can use either a cotton ball or a piece of gauze with ear cleaning solution, or you can use a baby wipe wrapped around your finger. Don’t use water because it doesn’t evaporate very easily. Wipe the inside surface of your dog’s ear, going down only as far as your finger easily fits. Don’t use Q-tips or try to put anything further down the ear canal or you will risk causing a painful ear injury.
Tips for dogs from the ASPCA:
Because of the twisty, curvy design of a dog’s inner ears, it’s easy for parasites, bacteria and yeast to hide and thrive in them. This also means that any debris in the canal must work its way up to escape. Infections can result from trapped debris. Dogs with allergies are particularly vulnerable, as are those with floppy ears, like Cocker spaniels, basset hounds and poodles.
Your dog’s regular grooming/maintenance routine should include regular ear checks. This is especially important for dogs who produce excessive earwax or have a lot of inner-ear hair:
- If your dog’s inner ears appear dirty, clean them with a cotton ball dampened with mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide or a solution formulated specifically for this purpose. Inner-ear skin is delicate, so allow your vet to demonstrate the proper method for cleaning your dog’s ears.
- Do not clean your dog’s ears so frequently or deeply as to cause irritation, and take care to NEVER insert anything into your dog’s ear canal.
- If your dog sprouts hair from his ear canal, you or your groomer may have to tweeze it out every few weeks to prevent problematic mats and tangles from forming. Please discuss with your vet whether this is necessary for your dog.
Wet Behind the Ears?
If you’re not careful, frequent bathing and swimming can lead to irritation and infection. To prevent this from happening, place cotton in your dog’s ears before baths, and be sure to dry her ears as thoroughly as you safely can after all water sports and activities.
If your dog is prone to ear infections, you might want to pour a tiny amount of an ear drying solution made for dogs into her ear canals to help evaporate any water trapped inside. These ear washes, usually witch hazel-based, are available at better pet supply stores.
Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms affecting your dog’s ears:
- Ear discharge
- Bad smells
- Crusty skin
- Hair loss
Please also be aware that brown or black ear wax—and dry, dark wax resembling coffee grounds—are classic indicators of microscopic ear mites. Only your vet can tell for sure, so please don’t delay bringing a gooey-eared pooch in for a checkup.
Tips for Cats from the ASPCA:
Ear Cleaning 101
Place a little bit of liquid ear cleaner (ask your vet for a recommendation) onto a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze. Fold kitty’s ear back gently and wipe away any debris or earwax that you can see on the underside of her ear. Lift away the dirt and wax rather than rubbing it into the ear. And do not attempt to clean the canal—probing inside of your cat’s ear can cause trauma or infection.
Signs of Ear Problems
Watch for the following signs that may indicate your cat’s ears should be checked by a veterinarian:
- Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear area
- Sensitivity to touch
- Head tilting or shaking
- Loss of balance and disorientation
- Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
- Unpleasant odor
- Black or yellowish discharge
- Accumulation of dark brown wax
- Hearing loss
Know Your Ear Disorders
- Ear mites are common parasites that are highly contagious among pets. Telltale signs include excessive itching of the ears and debris that resembles coffee grounds.
- Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, yeast or foreign debris caught in the ear canal. Treatment should be sought immediately as ear infections can cause considerable discomfort and may indicate allergies, hormonal abnormalities or hereditary disease.
- Blood blisters (hematoma) are the result of blood accumulation in the ear flap. They’re often caused by infection, ear mites, fleas or trapped debris that causes your cat to scratch her ears or shake her head excessively.