Dogs ears come in lots of different shapes and sizes, and unlike humans, they are prominent features of the head and face. Dogs can hear up to four times the distance of a human, and identify a sounds location much faster with more precision.
There are 18 muscles in a dogs ear that tilt, rotate, raise and lower their ears depending on the task, and the position of a dogs ears can tell you how much they’re paying attention or what mood they are in!
Fascinating to say the least…but what a lot of people don’t realise is that ear infections are one of the most common reasons for a trip to the vet!
A dogs ear canal is L-shaped, and has lots of nooks and crannies compared to human ears, which is why they take a little extra effort to clean than just a casual swab with a q-tip. But what do you use and how do you do it without causing damage?
Cleaning your dogs ears can be quite unsettling for them, so we need to find a way to do it that will help keep them calm to make sure no accidents happen…easier said than done right?
One thing you should never do is stick something directly into the dogs ear canal – this can cause long-term or even permanent hearing damage to the poor pup. A soaked cotton ball or ear wash syringe should be used to make sure you only put as much pressure on as needed to keep the ears clean and Fido safe.
It’s important to clean your dogs ears regularly, but not too often as this can cause problems – too much rubbing on a dogs inner ear can cause inflammation and irritation because the skin is tender and vulnerable to damage.
Checking for problems is also a must – be on the lookout for common signs of problems such as discharge from the ears, bad smells, hair loss, redness or swelling, or darkly coloured ear wax. Ear problems can be a major source of discomfort and pain to our four legged friends so it’s only fair to keep up with a simple routine that can avoid a trip to the vet.
But why do they get problems?
Well…dogs ear problems are usually caused by food-based or environmental sensitivities or allergies. In most cases, dogs that are prone to ear infections usually have hot spots or itchy skin, they can also be caused by unbalanced bacteria due to a change in dietary or environmental factors.
So what should you do?
First, clean your dogs ears regularly. Regularly can mean different things for different breeds, coat type, level of activity, age and ear wax, but usually it’s around once a month. If your dog swims or gets their ears wet frequently you may need to increase how often you clean their ears – we’ll let you be the judge.
Ear cleaning solution can be costly, especially if you’re staring up a new routine clean! But… all it takes is a few simple ingredients combined together and voila! Fido’s ears are as clean as a whistle!
Two recipes that are great for keeping dogs ears clean and relieving irritation are an Apple Cider Vinegar & Witch Hazel Ear Wash and plain and simple Olive oil, the best part is… you will probably have these ingredients hanging around in your kitchen cupboard.
#1 – Apple Cider Vinegar & Witch Hazel Ear Cleaner
- Put 1 portion of organic apple cider vinegar and 1 portion of organic witch hazel into a small bottle and shake well
- Using an ear syringe, flush and clean the dogs ear
- Dab dry with a cotton swab
The witch hazel works well to clean the ear, while the vinegar helps to restore the ear’s natural balance.
#2 – Olive Oil – Relief for irritated ears
- Warm some olive oil and put about 1/2 teaspoon of oil into each of your dogs ear
This will provide relief for any irritation your pup may be experiencing.
If you do notice a severe problem with your dogs ears, be sure to consult your vet for medical advice.
Some possible symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Head shaking & excessive scratching of the ears
- Tilting the head or holding the head at an unusual angle
- Odour coming from the ear
- Dark-reddish substance around the ear folds & deeper in the ear canal