How Important is Cleaning Your Pet’s Ears?
With ear infections being one of the top reasons for a visit to the Vet, ear care is an important part of pet ownership. All dogs and cats need some degree of routine ear cleaning to remove dirt, excessive wax, and debris from their ear canals. Pets can also suffer from a variety of conditions that require extra ear cleaning.
Routine Ear Cleaning for Dogs and Cats -
How often pets need routine ear cleaning performed varies by individual. Dogs with floppy ears need more frequent ear cleanings than those with ears that stand up. Kittens and puppies often need more help with ear care than adult cats and dogs because they tend to get dirtier and are still learning how to groom themselves.
Things to Watch for:
Pro Advice for Safely Cleaning Your Pet’s Ears:
If you have a new puppy or kitten, it’s a prime time to get them used to routine ear cleanings. Anything you do with a pet when he is young will be better tolerated in adulthood. If you have an older pet that hasn’t had many ear cleanings, you may need to work up to a full ear cleaning over a few sessions, giving your pet lots of positive reinforcement throughout the process.
Steps for performing a good ear cleaning on your pet:
1.Gather your supplies. You will need a liquid ear cleaner or ear cleaning wipes, and some gauze or cotton balls.
2.Begin when your pet is calm. It may help to attempt the ear cleaning after a good play session, so your pet will be a little relaxed.
3.Enlist the help of a second person. Having someone else hold your pet while you clean his ears will help the process go more quickly and smoothly.
4.Consider a towel wrap for your cat. Wrapping your kitty in a towel, leaving his head out, is a gentle means of restraint that can calm your cat and help reduce your chances of being scratched.
5.Hold the ear flap in one hand and the ear cleaning solution in the other. Most people find ear cleaning easiest if they hold the cleaner in their dominant hand. With the other hand, lift the ear flap if it’s floppy or hold it stead if it stands up.
6.Place a small amount of ear cleaner into the ear canal. Locate the opening to your pet’s ear canal. In some dogs, there will be quite a bit of hair that you may need to part so you can see the hole. Place the tip of the ear cleaner into the ear canal, and squeeze in a small amount. Be sure that you have a good hold on your pet’s ear, so he doesn’t shake the cleaner out right away.
7.Massage the pet’s ear canal. Put the bottle of ear cleaner down and use your dominant hand to rub the base of the pet’s ear gently and slowly. This helps the ear cleaner move down into the ear canal, loosen any debris that’s down there, and float it up and out.
8.Let your pet shake. Once you’ve massaged your pet’s ear for about 60 seconds, let go and allow him to shake his head. Be sure to avert your face, as ear cleaner and debris may fly out.
9.Use cotton to wipe out excess liquid and debris. Some debris will have moved up to the opening of the ear canal during the ear cleaning process. Use gauze or cotton balls to wipe it out. Do not use cotton swabs, which may push debris into your pet’s eardrum.
Conditions in Dogs and Cats that May Require Extra Ear Cleaning
There are times when your pet may need more than a routine amount of ear cleaning. Your veterinarian will help you determine if this is the case for your pet and, if so, how often you should do it. Some of the conditions that usually require extra ear cleanings include:
• Ear mite infestation. Your veterinarian will determine the best way to treat your pet’s ear mites, but extra ear cleanings will be necessary during treatment to remove all the extra ear debris that a mite infestation causes
• Ear infections. Infection of the ear canal causes extra debris to develop. Extra ear cleanings while also using medications prescribed by the veterinarian
• Allergies. Pets with certain types of allergies tend to suffer from irritation to the skin lining their ear canals. These pets often benefit from more frequent ear cleanings
• Swimming. Dogs that swim are more prone to developing ear infections because water becomes trapped in the ear canals, resulting in a warm, dark, moist environment that’s prime for growing bacteria or yeast. Dogs that swim often suffer from fewer ear infections when their ears are cleaned with a cleaner that contains a drying agent after each swim session
• Extra wax build-up. Certain pet breeds such as Persian cats and Shar Pei dogs tend to build up excessive amounts of wax in their ear canals, which needs to be cleaned out routinely for the pet’s comfort.
How frequently you clean your dog’s ears really depends on your individual dog.
If there is no odor and you do not see wax and debris too often, once a week will work. But if your dog produces a lot of ear wax or has yeasty ears, then daily cleaning is advised. Yeasty ears also need to be disinfected, along with their skin, so be sure to check with your Vet to see what they recommend.
Consistent monitoring and cleaning should keep your dog’s ears clean, fresh, and odor-free.