Ear infections are one of the most common canine conditions treated by vets. Breeds with particularly floppy ears, such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, or very hairy ears, such as Poodles, Lagottos and Poodle Crosses, are prone to ear infections. They can occur in any dog however, and at any age. Dogs who love to swim, roll around in long grass, or have allergies, are all more prone to ear problems.
So how do you know if your dog’s ears are healthy?
You should regularly inspect your dog’s ears and get used to what is normal for them as an individual. Do they naturally have slightly pink ears? Is some thick hair growing from the ear canal normal for them? Do they always have a small amount of brown ear wax around their ears? Anything you notice that seems unusual compared to normal, warrants a trip to the vet to have the ears checked. Your groomer is another excellent person to seek advice from regarding ear health. They might be the first ones to notice that your dog’s ears need some veterinary attention.
Signs of ear infections include:
Head shaking or scratching
Rubbing the ears along the carpet or against surfaces
Yelping when their ears are touched
Head tilt towards the bad ear
Red, warm or swollen ears
Broken skin around the ear (usually a sign of intense scratching)
Ear discharge (can be black, brown, yellow, green-tinged)
If you notice your dog has any of these symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet. Ear infections can be very uncomfortable for dogs, so efficient treatment is important.
It is very important to get new puppies used to having their ears examined when there is no problem, so they will be much more comfortable with the process in the future when there may be a painful infection. Start playing with your puppy’s ears as soon as they come home and give them lots of treats while you practice picking up their ear flap whilst holding the dog still, mimicking how they would be held at the vets during a check-up.
Do I need to clean my dog’s ears?
This will depend on your dog and their individual needs. Many dogs benefit from occasional ear cleaning, especially if they are prone to ear discharge or have lots of hair near their ears. There are lots of good quality ear cleaners available from your local vet or the pet shop. Ask your vet what ear cleaning they would recommend for your particular dog when you take them for their vaccinations. They can show you the correct technique and how to keep your dog's ears clean without causing any damage.
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