Ear Care

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

Ear Care

Canine ear care is an area of hygiene that many dog owners usually ignore until there is a problem. Depending on several factors, including the geographical climate, breed of dog and the dog’s acceptance to an ear cleaning regiment, common ear problems can almost always be prevented. As mentioned, some dogs, especially the pendant or "floppy eared" breeds, are more susceptible to ear problems. Geographic climates such as warm, humid areas of the country can also help to increase a dog’s chance of developing ear problems. The dark, moist environment of the canine ear canal is the perfect breeding ground for many bacteria, funguses and parasites that can cause infections.

Pendant-eared dogs have ears, which lay over the aural opening; consequently less air is able to circulate through the ear resulting in a higher rate of ear infections. Wax build-up, yeast infections and mite infestations are among the most common canine ear problems. Some of the more common symptoms associated with ear problems are a fowl odor being emitted from the ears, the dog shaking his head from side-to-side, scratching or "pawing" at the infected ear and a painful reaction or intolerance to the ear being touched. The dog may also carry his head at an angle, usually towards the side of the problematic ear. The interior of the ear canal should be a healthy whitish/pink color. Ear passages that are red and inflamed, dry and flaky, wax covered or producing a discharge should be attended to immediately.

There are many canine ear products on the market today. Most commercially sold ear-cleaning products are either a wash that helps break-up wax build-ups or drops designed to kill ear mites. However, many of these products contain a high percentage of alcohol, which with repeated use could dry out the ear canal. Consult with your veterinarian before beginning an ear cleaning regiment. Most veterinarians carry ear products that are not as harsh as those sold "over the counter." Many veterinarians and professional groomers will remove wax build-up from a dog’s ears with a cotton swab or a cotton ball held in place with a pair of forceps. Because dogs have a very long ear canal with the eardrum located at the bottom and to the side, neither of these implements will injure the dog’s ears if used properly. Although the applicators can be inserted at their full length without causing injury, one should seek professional advice before attempting to see "how far the Q-Tip can go!"

The ear care regiment will depend on the previously mentioned factors, but a bimonthly (twice a month) cleaning will usually help to prevent most common maladies. Pendant or "floppy eared" dogs can have the inside of their ears shaved with grooming clippers to help allow more air to circulate throughout the ear passage. This will help to reduce the chances of ear infections. Regardless of what type of cleaner is used, the ears should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. If cotton swabs or balls are used, they should be as clean coming out as they were going in, or the process should be repeated.

If an ear condition does not clear up after a few days or a chronic condition develops, a veterinarian should be consulted, as antibiotics may need to be administered.

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