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There is nothing better about being a pet owner than giving your trusted companion a good scratch behind the ears! Our dogs and cats love ear scritchies, but what do you do if your pet starts having ear troubles? Infections, a build up of dirt and debris, parasites, and even foreign bodies can cause our pets issues inside their ears, and regular ear care can help!
Some dogs and cats need frequent ear cleaning, up to about once and week, and some pets never need to have their ears cleaned. Genetics, ear size and type, overall health, and lifestyle all play a factor into how frequently our pets need ear cleaning. For example, Himalayan and Persian cats have smaller outer ears and long hair, which makes them more susceptible to issues inside of their ears. Cocker Spaniels and Bassett Hounds also face similar issues because of the large size of their ears.
Here are the signs and symptoms that something might be up with your pets ears:
At the onset of an ear infection, it is important for your pet to visit us to determine exactly what is going on. From there, we can advise you on if your pet needs a special medicated ear wash, if there is a foreign body that needs to be removed (surprisingly the most common foreign body is grass seeds!), or if a regular at home ear cleaning regiment would be right for your pet. Once that can be determined, it is possible that you might need to start ear cleaning at home. Take a look at this helpful guide to at home ear care!
- Get into a controlled but comfortable position. Smaller dogs and cats might be more comfortable wrapped burrito-style in a blanket or towel and held by a willing friend or family member. Larger dogs will be more comfortable on the floor or in their bed.
- Grasp one ear and hold the ear flap up vertically to expose the ear canal and help straighten out the ear canal. Hold the ear cleaning solution in your other hand.
- Squeeze some ear cleaning solution into your pet’s ear. Use enough cleaner to completely fill the ear canal. It is fine if some of the solution spills out of the ear canal. Try not to put the tip of the bottle into the ear. If the tip of the bottle touches your pet’s ear, wipe the tip off with a clean cotton ball soaked in alcohol to prevent the spread of bacteria or yeast.
- Continue to hold the ear flap up vertically with one hand and gently massage the base of the ear below the ear opening for about 30 seconds with the other hand. This allows the cleaning solution to break up the debris that is in the ear canal. You should hear a 'squishing' sound as the cleaning solution moves around in the horizontal part of the ear canal.
- While still holding the ear flap up, wipe away debris from the inner part of the ear flap and the upper ear canal using a cotton ball or gauze.
- Allow your pet to shake their head. This allows the remaining ear cleaning solution and debris from the ear canal to move out of the canal to the outer opening of the ear (be aware of flying ear cleaning solution and debris!)
- Once again, hold the ear flap up, and remove the loosened debris and cleaning solution from the outer opening of the ear canal using a cotton ball or gauze.
- Remove any debris and remaining cleaning solution from the ear canal with a cotton ball or gauze — only go into the ear canal as far as your finger will reach.
- NEVER use a cotton-tipped applicator (Q-tip) to clean your pet’s ears. Doing so can damage the ear canal and/or eardrum or push debris further into the ear canal.
- Provide treats, pets, and praise!
- Repeat the same process with the other ear.
- If your pet appears to be in pain during the cleaning process, stop and give us a call!
Ear medications can be applied after ear cleaning. The process is similar, and if your pet is prescribed a medication, we will provide detailed instructions and a demonstration at the time of your appointment.
If you have any questions, or if you are worried that there might be something going on with your pet’s ears, give us a call today! Ear infections are common, highly treatable, and with a little tender love and care, can be cleared up quickly getting your pet back to their playful and happy self!