problems are the second most common reason dog owners take their dog to
the veterinarian, according to a survey by Veterinary Pet Insurance.
Wet ear canals can predispose a dog to ear infections. When bathing your dog, keep water out of her ears by
inserting cotton wadding into the ear canals. Similarly, it is important to dry
your dog’s ears after she has been swimming. If water gets into an ear, wipe
the opening gently with a cotton ball. If you know from prior visits to your
veterinarian that your dog’s eardrums are intact, you can instill an ear
solution that contains a drying agent. Commonly used drying solutions include
ClearX, Panodry, and Vet Solutions Swimmers Ear
Astringent. A drop of white vinegar will also help prevent “swimmer’s ear.”
Dogs naturally lose old or damaged hair by shedding. Although shedding is a normal process for dogs, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season-many dogs develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. Dogs who are always kept indoors, however, are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year.
Foreign material in the ears causes irritation and, later, infection. Grass seeds and awns
frequently cling to the hair surrounding the ear openings and then drop into
the canals. Because the ear canal has an L shape, foreign bodies can become
lodged down in the canal and it can be difficult to thoroughly clean the ear
without sedation. To avoid this, always groom under the ear flaps, especially
after your dog has been running in tall grass, weeds, and brush.
It is common in professional grooming parlors to pluck hair out of the ear canals.
Serum then oozes from the hair pores. The serum makes an excellent medium for
bacterial growth. This may be one reason why ear infections are more common
among Poodles, Schnauzers, and other breeds that are professionally groomed. It
is recommended that you do not allow hair to be plucked from this area unless
there is a medical reason to do so. In some cases, the hair forms a wad that
obstructs air flow and keeps the ear canals moist; avoiding this would be a
valid medical reason to remove the offending hair.
Cleaning the Ears
Routine ear cleaning is not required. A small amount of light brown waxy
secretion in the ear canals is normal, and some ear wax is necessary for the
health of the ears. However, the insides of the ear flaps should be cleaned
whenever there is a accumulation of wax, dirt, or debris. Gently wipe the skin with a cloth that has been
dampened with mineral oil, or better yet, with an ear cleansing solution such
as Oti-Clens, Epi-Otic, or a similar product. Ear cleaners can be purchased at
pet supply stores or through your veterinarian. Do not use alcohol, ether, or
other irritating solvents; they can cause intense pain and inflame the