You know without a shadow of a doubt if your dog has an ear infection. A foul odor is all the proof you need. Ear infections and irritations to the ear are caused by ear mites, fleas, ticks, hematoma, skin or food allergies, dirty environments, poor hygiene, yeast infections or bacterial infections. Dogs with floppy ears are more likely to have problems with ear infections because their floppy ears inhibit air flow. Dogs with erect ears have better air flow and don’t usually have problems with their ears, unless they are neglected. It’s important to clean your dog’s ears to help keep them healthy.
Diet and exercise. Feeding your dog a quality dog food helps keep their immune system working properly. A healthy diet that provides your dog with what their body needs to stay healthy is as important for them as it is for us. Quality dog foods are more economical in the long run because it takes less food to fill your dog up, they have a properly working digestive system, they poop less often and a quality food helps your dog fight off most infections when he’s in good shape inside and out.
Keep water out of their ears. Dogs who work in water or love to play in the swimming pool or lake can develop swimmer’s ear, just like we can. Grass, small bits of twigs and other small pieces of debris floating in the water can become lodged in their ears. Small grass seeds can find their way inside your dog’s ear during hikes or while playing in tall grasses like buzzard grass . It’s also easy to get water in their ears when you are giving them a bath. Dogs with long ears that flop down are more likely to develop ear infections because the ear holds moisture in and it doesn’t get a chance to dry out. Cotton balls can be put in the ears during baths to help keep the water out. Dry the inside of the ears thoroughly after he’s been in the water and after a bath.
Keep the hair trimmed. Long hair blocks air from flowing into the ear canal which can keep it moist inside. The most common reason for ear infections in dogs is from microorganisms, especially yeasts, and they like a warm and moist environment to grow in. Good air flow can keep the ear canal drier, making it harder for infections to grow. Commercial ear cleaners and drying agents work well to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. The safest and best way to remove hair from the ear is by plucking it out with a good pair of tweezers rather than trying to cut it out with scissors.
Check the ears for hematoma. Aural hematoma, also called blood blisters, develop when small blood vessels in the ear swells because the dog is scratching an irritated ear. When he shakes his head hard, some of the blood vessels will break and leak out blood in between the skin on the inside of the ear flap and the cartilage of the ear. What you see is a puffy lump on the inside of your dog’s ear. It’s more irritating to the dog than painful and isn’t life threatening. Hematomas are easily treated by your vet. If your pet develops a blood blister in his ear, an ear infection is usually associated with it, but not always. Any kind of irritation in the ear can cause a dog to scratch his ear and shake his head.
Keep the inside of the ear clean of wax and dirt. A little dirt or wax build up on the underside of the dog’s ear is normal. Don’t try to remove all of the wax you see in the ear canal. You risk pushing wax farther down and you can damage the ear if you go too deep with a Q-tip. If you feel the ear canal needs cleaned out, it’s best to let the vet do it. If your dog does have an ear infection, the ear is already sore and a Q-tip can be irritating if you go poking around in the ear canal. Ear infections need to be taken care of by a vet because they can be hard to diagnose and treat.
The best way to clean the ear is with a cotton ball. You can use a commercial ear cleaner or make your own using white vinegar and water in a 50:50 ratio. Stay away from alcohol because if your dog has any scratches in his ear, it will burn and could cause more irritation and damage. Soak a cotton ball at room temperature cleaner and then squeeze out any excess liquid before starting. Carefully wipe the inside of the ear up and down to remove wax and dirt. A Q-tip works good to get into the little folds in the ear flap. After you are done washing the ear, take a dry cotton ball and wipe the area again.
Clean your dog’s ears regularly. The ears should be inspected and cleaned once a week during the hotter months. You can cut back during the winter, but staying on a weekly schedule is best. It doesn’t take long to clean the ears and it’s an important habit to maintain year round.
Ear infections can cause a loss of hearing and are painful for the dog. Plus, your dog’s whining and scratching can drive you crazy. If you can smell your pet’s ears; that’s not a good sign and a trip to the vet is required to get to the bottom of the foul odor. Prevention is always the best policy when it comes to keeping your dog healthy from his ears down to his feet and everything in between.