How to clean your Dog’s ears 

With my both dogs I happened to find myself in a situation where every other month I had to take them to the vet to treat ear infections. It was like this for about a year. I really would have appreciated that the different vets I visited could have pointed me into the right direction, instead of making me putting tons of antibiotics into my dog’s ears, for so long, with the subsequent spent of time and money.

That’s why I wanted people to know this and check and make questions to their vet, because it wasn’t until I started my studies for Vet assistant when I came across this info.

Ear infections can cause a lot of pain in your dog, even aggressive responses you might find weird (imagine if you have a searing pain ALL the time in your ear, and no one is capable to understand your suffering and on top of that, they keep bothering you with every single dumb thing they can). It can also cause an Otohematoma, which is a horrible situation where our dog, by shaking your ears trying to get rid of something that it’s inside, cause a trauma in their ears that has to be drained out and properly treated. You don’t want that. So it’s not wise to neglect dogs’ ears.

You need to check at least once a week your puppy’s ears (or every fortnight, depending on how much your dog goes out). You need to watch carefully if any strong-weird smell, redness or excessively itching is happening, and if it’s so, go straight to your vet, as these may be signs of ear infection. If this is the case, do not apply anything to your dog’s ear until your doctor has prescribed you something. But ask questions, don’t hold it.

Mark one day in your calendar to watch and clean your puppy’s ears. It’s very easy and cheap, and if you start early enough, they will love this cleaning time and will get relaxed when you’re doing it.

Dog's ears before and after cleaning
Cooper’s ears before and after cleaning

You will only need (per piece of gauze) one drop of apple cider vinegar. Some people use a drop of calendula oil with another one of tea tree oil, and it’s OK if your dog doesn’t tend to develop ear infections, but I’ve found this leaves the ears too greasy and I don’t like it. Besides, dog with hanging ears require more help. Another product you can use is Abelia. You can find this one at your local vet.

There are 3 considerations that are absolute non negotiable for this process:

  • There can be a series of “things” inside a dog’s ear, apart from dirt: fungi, bacteria, parasites… If you notice any redness, strong smell, swelling, or even small pieces of matter “moving” – yes, there are parasites who can live in your dog’s ears, they’re called Otodectes and can cause horrible itching and infections (ewww!)-, you need to take your doggo to a vet. If you use an anti-parasite product like Simparica o Bravecto, for instance, these horrible bugs are very unlikely to be in your dog’s ears, as they are parasitic mites, belonging to the Acari, and they get killed by these antiparasite products, same for instance as Sarcoptes scabiei, a good reason for using these products. What I saw at the clinic, however, more frequently, were ears totally taken by Malassezia, a type of yeast that has a very characteristic smell and creates a serious chaos there. Malassezia is everywhere, actually, in skin, hair, everywhere. It’s usually in equilibrium with its host. The problem occurs when high levels of humidity and darkness (the usual thing in a dog’s ear) are found. The immunity system can play a role, too. So this terrible Malassezia was the culprit of my dogs’ suffering until I finally discovered this information and challenge my vet to prescribe something to keep this at bay. It was the Abelia product. On further investigation, I also found that for mild cases, apple cider vinegar can help too. What made me really angry was that all the doctors were prescribing antibiotics for the problem, and I was using a product that “bothers” Malassezia, but didn’t kill it, and that’s why the issue recurred.
  • Use only gauze per ear, to avoid potential spread of infections
  • No more than 10 seconds per ear and be super gentle: yeap, you read it right. Dogs are very sensitive with their ears, so please be as careful as you can, bearing in mind that by no means any hard object – yes, this includes your fingernails – can be used against this very delicate and soft skin they have inside their ears. This amount of time cannot be surpassed, as if it’s so, it will irritate your pooch’s very sensitive ear skin, causing itching, which is definitely something you need to avoid. If the ears are too dirty, you may need to use a couple of gauzes per ear; however, if that’s the case, I strongly advise you to spread this cleaning over a couple of days. No more than once per day, if you can, please.

Now you know it, don’t take any sugar from your vet. Ask questions, find out, and tell them to explain to you what’s exactly going on in your pooch’s ears.

Thanks for reading! Take care!

12 thoughts on “My Ears”

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