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Looking after your Dogs ears

Preventative care is always best

Our dog's "Fern" and "Moss" both have wonderful, "pricked up" ears. All the better for hearing with, ... and perfectly shaped for catching debris on the run! 

I am constantly checking their ears after their walks for bits of leaf, grit, moss, grass seeds, ...all manner of debris!. 

Preventative care is always best, which is why regular checking and cleaning of your dog’s ears is so important.

Knowing how to clean dog ears is all part of grooming your pet, and ensures that your dog’s ears stay comfortable, clean, and healthy.

Get your dog used to checking and ear cleaning from an early stage, so make sure that your puppy gets used to this handling as early as possible. You can do this by gently holding their ears and massaging their ear flaps and look at their ears, while playing with your puppy. Always reward them with a special treat afterwards, to associate the ear cleaning with something positive.

Over cleaning ears can cause irritation, so do avoid this, but also no cleaning or under-cleaning can make way for excessive wax build-up. Regular checks after walks and once weekly ear cleaning is about right, although some dogs need more frequent ear cleansing if they are prone to ear infections.

The best place to clean your dog's ears is in the bathroom or outside. Keeping in mind that when the dog shakes its head afterwards the resultant wax, debris and ear cleaner must go somewhere!

Use an advised, gentle, non-astringent, pet ear cleaning solution, and one recommended by your vet practice. Do avoid any ear cleansers that contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which can actually irritate and inflame your dog’s ears. Use cotton wool balls or pads and have a couple of old, large towels to hand. Wrap a large old towel around your dog secured with a clothes peg, and place one underneath him to keep him stable.

Before you begin, take a moment first to inspect your dog's ears.  If they are painful or appear red or inflamed and smell bad, then stop what you are doing, and contact your vet. Your dog may have an ear infection, which will need to be treated appropriately.

Check both ears first for any matts and excess woolly hair within the ear canal or around its base. If your dog has a heavy coat, matts, or a lot of “wool” coming from the ear canal, then this will need to be groomed out, or gently plucked away. Do this very gently and just a little bit at a time to clear this hair away before ear cleaning, and to avoid any discomfort. A professional dog groomer may be needed for this. After clearing away any excess hair or matts, then check their ears for excess wax build up.

Moisten a cotton ball or pad with an ear cleaner solution and first gently wipe clean the outer part of the ear canal, the inside skin of the ear flap and the area below the ear. Then, apply a few drops of the Ear Cleaner solution down into the inside of the ear canal. Use gravity and avoid touching the ear with the ear drop product nozzle, apply into the ear canal at the base of the ear and then gently massage the applied ear drops down into the ear canal. After massaging, then gently wipe the outer ear canal clean. Making sure you use a separate cotton pad for each ear.

Ear infections in dogs are commonly caused by a range of factors, including allergies, bacteria, yeast, and ear mites. Excessive hair, moisture, debris, wax build up, foreign bodies and allergens can all cause problems. Unlike the human ear canal the canal in dogs is mostly vertical with a shorter horizontal canal and a bend between the two. Therefore, it is easier for debris and moisture to be retained in the lower, horizontal ear canal, which can lead to problems.

If your dog shows sudden signs of ear pain, redness or inflammation of the ear canal or swelling of the earflap, smell or discharge, continual head shaking or scratching drooping of the ear and tilting of their head, then do contact your vet. There could be an ear infection, or it could even be that a foreign body is present within the ear canal.

Before dispensing out any ear drops your vet will want to examine your dog’s ears and make sure that there are no foreign bodies, and also that the ear “drums”, the tympanic membranes, are visibly intact before prescribing any topical drop treatments.

Many dogs are prone to skin problems and seasonal skin allergies, and these dogs can also be much more likely to have recurrent ear infections. The ear canal itself is an extension of their skin, and so can be inflamed if reactive to the allergens in the surrounding environment, and secondary ear infections can then occur. With these cases, the underlying skin problem will also have to be addressed and dealt with too.

It is a good idea for all dog owners to routinely wipe down their dog's body and ears with a moistened wipe, or wettened flannel, after any walks outdoors. Checking their ears and skin carefully for any grass seeds, wiping away excess pollens, and checking for any potential ticks etc.,

Inspect your dog's ears regularly. If you do have any concerns and you think that your pet may have an ear infection, then do contact your vet’s surgery for good professional advice and an appointment for your dog’s ears and skin to be thoroughly examined.


Alison Laurie-Chalmers
Senior Consultant
Crown Vets

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