Auburn, CA dog getting ear examined.

Nobody likes a dirty ear, but when it comes to pets, it’s more than just a cosmetic issue. Dirty ears aren’t only uncomfortable, they also put your pet at risk for pain and infection. They may also be indicative of more serious issues.

Ears are essential for hearing and balance, two of the main ways your pet navigates the world around them. Fortunately, pet ear care is simple, and you can make it part of your regular grooming routine with these tips and tricks for success.

Common Concerns

Ear problems are among the most common reasons we see pets. Unlike humans (who tend to have middle ear problems), pets usually have problems in the external ear canal. Infection or inflammation of this area is known as otitis externa. It may be caused by allergies or foreign body irritations (such as a foxtail awn), which can lead to yeast and bacterial overgrowth.

Some indications that your pet is having ear trouble include:

  • Foul odor
  • Pain when touched
  • Visible redness and/or swelling inside the ear
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Head shaking or pawing at the ears
  • Holding the head or ear in an unusual position

Cleaning and inspecting your pet’s ears on a regular basis can go a long way toward preventing or mitigating problems.

Pet Ear Care

Many pet owners are understandably concerned about cleaning their pet’s ears, but rest assured this simple procedure is easy to learn. Before you begin, it’s important to gather the proper supplies:

  • Ear wash (don’t use rubbing alcohol – ask us for recommendations!)
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • A well-lit workspace

Now, it’s time for the fun part!

  • Step one: Thoroughly inspect your dog’s ears for any signs of infection or trouble. Make note of any redness, discharge, or other issues before cleaning.
  • Step two: Flush the ears one at a time with cleaning solution. Insert the tip of the bottle a few millimeters into the ear, and gently squeeze a small amount of solution into the canal.
  • Step three: Allow your dog to shake, then gently massage the base of the ear to move the solution around inside.
  • Step four: Use cotton balls to remove debris from the outer part of the canal. Cotton swabs may be used around the outside crevices, just be sure not to stick the swab too far inside, as this may cause wax to become impacted inside the ear.

We recommend weekly ear cleanings for most dogs, although some will need more frequent cleanings. If you’re still feeling unsure, your veterinarian is happy to demonstrate the proper techniques during your pet’s next wellness exam. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions or concerns regarding pet ear care.