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Ear Problems and Infections in Dogs

Cleaning the Ears continued...

If there is an excessive accumulation of wax in the ear canals that appears to be the blocking air flow; if the ear appears to be red, inflamed, and moist; or if there is discharge from the ear, take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment. The ears are either infected or likely to become so.

After an initial cleaning at the veterinary clinic, you may be instructed to instill a cleansing solution at home. Apply a few drops of cleaning solution to the canal and massage the base of the ear to loosen wax and debris. Then gently wipe out the ear canal with cotton balls.

Never insert cotton-tipped applicators or swabs down into the ear canals, because this pushes wax and cellular debris further into the ear. This is a common cause of ear infection.

How to Apply Ear Medicines

Ear medicines should be applied only to clean, dry ear canals. Some ear preparations come in tubes with long nozzles; others use medicine droppers. Restrain the dog so that the tip of the applicator does not accidentally tear the wall of the ear canal. Fold the ear flap over the top of the dog’s head. Insert the end of the nozzle or medicine dropper into the ear canal only as far as you can see. Squeeze in the amount of ointment or number of drops recommended by your veterinarian.

Most infections involve the part of the ear canal next to the eardrum. It is important that the medicine reach this area. Massage the cartilage at the base of the ear for 20 seconds to disperse the medicine. This makes a squishy sound.

Do not use ear preparations or drying solutions unless you know for sure that the eardrums are intact, as determined by a veterinary exam using an otoscope. If a preparation is inserted into an ear canal with a perforated eardrum, it will enter the middle ear and damage structures essential to hearing.


Ear medications should be instilled once or twice daily, or as directed by your veterinarian. Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat external ear infections include Panolog (neomycin, nystatin, cortisone), Liquichlor (chloramphenicol), Tresderm (neomycin, thiabendazole, cortisone), and Gentocin Otic (gentamicin). Gentamicin can cause ototoxicity or hearing loss, especially if your dog has a ruptured ear drum. Only use this medication under veterinary guidance.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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