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Discharge From a Dog's Ear: Causes and Treatments

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Ear Discharge in Dogs: Why You Should Talk to Your Vet

Gently pull back your dog's ears and have a quick look inside. What you should see is a clean, pink ear canal. If you notice discharge, redness, swelling, or odor, it's time to talk to the vet. Left untreated, ear problems in dogs can result in severe pain, hematomas (the ear flap fills up with blood), balance problems, and even deafness.

Because ear discharge in dogs can be the result of several causes and can have all kinds of smells, colors, and consistencies, don't try to guess what's causing your dog's ear discharge. Find out by making an appointment with your vet, who can diagnose the cause of your dog's ear discharge and prescribe the best treatment.

3 Steps for Applying Your Dog's Ear Medication

If your vet prescribes ear drops to clear up your dog's ear discharge, you may need to apply them for several weeks. These quick tips make that a little easier:

Make sure you have the ear drops close by. Then, hold your dog's head still, thumb between eyes and nose, fingers wrapped under your dog's jaw. Lift your dog's ear and clean away easy-to-reach wax with a cotton ball and ear cleaning solution. Don't dig deep and don't use cotton swabs, which can easily damage the ear canal or pack wax or debris against the eardrum.

Keeping your grip steady, place the nozzle of the ear drops at the opening of your dog's ear canal, angled toward their nose. Squirt in the prescribed number of drops.

Keep hold of your dog's head so it can't shake out the medication, then spread the drops by folding your dog's ear down and gently massaging the cartilage at the base of the ear for 30 seconds.

Make sure you follow the veterinarian’s directions: Cleaning the ear canal may not optimize certain medications, and others may require more frequent dosing.

Preventing Ear Problems in Dogs

Dogs with drooping ears -- basset hounds, Irish setters, spaniels -- are more prone to ear problems, but any dog can have ear mites, develop an infection, or get an irritant like burrs or seeds stuck in their ears.

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