Why You Need to Clean Your Dog's Ears
Want a Healthy Dog? Start With the Ears
You might prefer to assume that your dog ignores or disobeys you because he simply doesn't hear your commands -- but don't kid yourself. Dogs have extraordinary hearing ability, including the ability to pick out frequencies three times as high as our poor humans ears can detect. But that super hearing doesn't mean that your dog's ears are super-strong physically. Dirt, pests, and bacteria can cause some serious problems for those sensitive ears, so you need to take preventative action in the form of regular ear cleaning. Let's take a look at why canine ear cleaning is so important, along with the smartest and safest ways to go about it.
How Dirty Ears Can Lead to Trouble
One thing you may have noticed about your dog's ears is how much more open to the outside world they are than human ears. Even a floppy-eared dog has relatively wide ear canals. The structure and angle of the ear canals makes it easy for foreign matter to find its way into them -- and difficult for those substances to find their way back out. As a result, debris, moisture, wax, bacteria, ear mites, and viruses can take up residence inside your pet's ears. Some of the more common results include:
- Allergic reactions
- Bacterial or yeast infections
- Hearing obstruction
- Ear pain, itching and irritation (otitis)
Ear infections are particularly dangerous because some types can lead to permanent hearing loss -- but even a mild form of otitis is likely to make your dog miserable. Dogs typically develop otitis in the outer ear, but without prompt treatment, an outer-ear infection can move to the middle ear, culminating in a burst eardrum.
Different breeds of dogs may be vulnerable to ear trouble for different reasons. Breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Setters and Cocker Spaniels, for instance, tend to have allergy-based ear issues. In floppy-eared breeds such as Beagles and Basset Hounds, the outer ear structure contributes to ear trouble. Other breeds such as Pekingese, Maltese, and Poodles develop problems due to the thick hair around their ears.
Adopting a Regular Ear Cleaning Routine
Fortunately, you don't have to wait for your dog to develop a painful, potentially damaging ear problem. Regular ear cleaning can help keep the ears clean and dry, reducing the odds of infection and infestation. Be warned, however, that dogs don't normally like having their ears fooled around with, even when it's for their own good. You can help your dog accept ear cleaning by accompanying it with plenty of treats as a reward for his patience and tolerance. Most dogs only need their ears cleaned about once a month. (If your dog is a swimmer, he may benefit from more frequent cleanings.)
The Right Products Make All the Difference
Cleaning a (cooperative) dog's ears isn't difficult -- but it needs to be done correctly. Cotton swabs or other elongated objects can cause serious damage, so stick to cotton balls or other soft, safe applicators. Don't use harsh cleaners such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or medications such as antibiotics or steroids, unless instructed to do so by your vet. Instead, use the safe, gentle Ear Wash we offer here at Doggie Dailies. This product contains tea tree oil, echinacea, aloe vera and witch hazel -- natural ingredients that wash away dirt, wax, and infectious agents without harming delicate ears. It's a smart, easy way to help your dog maintain his comfort, health, and of course his amazing hearing -- whether he heeds your commands or not!
- Jennifer M