Ear Health

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Cleaning Your Dog's Ears

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Caring for your dog's ears and keeping them clean is an important part of your dog's overall health.  For dogs prone to ear infections, regular use of an ear cleanser can support good ear health.1-4 In addition to having your dog's ears examined regularly during veterinary checkups, ask your veterinarian about regular ear cleanings at home, as part of your dog's grooming routine.

 

 

dog_ear.jpgWhy do dogs often have ear problems?

The structure of a dog’s ear canal makes dogs more likely than humans to get ear infections. That’s because a dog’s ear canal is deep and angled—like the letter “L.” Debris must work its way up to exit the ear, making it more difficult for material to be expelled without the assistance of cleanings. If not removed, debris can lead to itchiness and ear infections.

 

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Watch the video for more ear-cleaning tips
Choosing the right ear cleansing solution for dogs
With many dog ear cleansers to choose from, it can be hard to know which is the best for your dog. Not all products are the same, and while some people may try using homemade cleaning solutions, it’s important to use a veterinarian-approved ear cleanser designed specifically for pets. A professionally recommended ear cleaner for dogs will:
 
  • Be effective, yet gentle enough for routine use (gentle cleansers will have a neutral pH and a non-irritating formula)
    • Cleansers that contain significant amounts of alcohol, have an acidic pH, or contain hydrogen peroxide can all irritate your dog's ears, especially if used often
  • Remove excessive ear wax
  • Keeps ears smelling fresh
  • Be able to be used before application of other ear products

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT EAR CLEANING IN DOGS
  • Can I use a cotton-tipped applicator to clean my dog’s ears?

    No. Using a cotton-tipped applicator may damage your dog’s ears. Instead, follow the instructions above for how to properly clean your dog’s ears.

  • How often should I clean my dog’s ears?

    Ask your veterinarian how frequently you should clean your dog’s ears. A proper ear cleanser will be powerful gentle enough to use regularly—about 2 to 3 times per week, or as directed by your veterinarian. All dogs need regular ear cleaning but dogs prone to ear infections may need more frequent cleanings.

  • Should I clean my dog’s ears if my dog has an ear infection?

    If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, you should schedule a visit to the veterinarian to get a firm diagnosis and treatment plan. The treatment plan will include instructions on other products to apply, if needed, and when to clean ears.

  • Will an ear cleanser irritate my dog’s ears?

    Because there are many ear cleansers to choose from, it is important to look for a veterinarian-recommended cleanser, which is designed specifically for pets. A professionally recommended ear cleanser will be gentle enough for routine use, with a neutral pH and a non-irritating formula. It will also keep ears smelling fresh, remove excessive ear wax, and will be able to be used before application of other ear products. Avoid using cleansers that contain significant amounts of alcohol, have an acidic pH, or contain hydrogen peroxide as all of these things can irritate your dogs ears, especially if used often.

  • Should I use and ear cleanser after my dog swims or gets wet?

    It is a good idea to clean your dog’s ears after swimming since moisture in the ear can lead to problems, such as inflammation or infection. An effective ear cleanser will have a drying effect to discourage moisture from accumulating in the ear.

References: 1. Nuttall T. Successful management of otitis externa. In Pract. 2016;38(Suppl 1):17–21. 2. Nuttall T, Cole LK. Ear cleaning: the UK and US perspective. Vet Dermatol. 2004;15:127–136. 3. Paterson S. Topical ear treatment-options, indications and limitation of current therapy. J Small Anim Pract. 2016;57:668–678. 4. Overview of otitis externa. Merck Veterinary Manual website. Available at: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/ear-disorders/otitis-externa/overview-of-otitis-externa. Accessed August 7, 2020.