Many dog owners never give a second thought to the health of their dogs' ears. Unless Fido isn't answering the dinner bell, pet owners may fail to recognize signs that man's best friend is dealing with ear trouble.
Though it's easily overlooked, maintaining a dog's ears is something owners must do throughout their four-legged friend's life. Such maintenance is simple, and owners who remember to make it a part of their dog's grooming routine can help ensure their dog stays clean and healthy for years to come.
Why must I prioritize ear maintenance for my dog?
The anatomy of dogs' ears is reason enough for dog owners to make ear maintenance part of the grooming routine they have for their pets. The inner ears of dogs are curvy and provide many spots for bacteria, parasites and yeast to hide and grow. The winding nature of dogs' inner ears also can make it difficult to expel any debris that enters the ear canal, and trapped debris can cause infection.
What are some signs that suggest
my dog's ears aren't up to snuff?
Much like their owners, dogs may suffer from wax buildup in their ears. But unlike humans, dogs who have wax buildup in their ears may be coping with microscopic ear mites, which can infect dogs' inner and external ear canals and lead to infection if left untreated.
Ear mites can be difficult to see, but the presence of a black or brown waxy secretion may be indicative of ear mites. Dogs with ear mites may also rub or scratch their ears excessively, and that behavior can lead to ruptured blood vessels within the dog's ear flap, which will look swollen and cause the dog considerable pain.
Other signs that dogs may be having problems with their ears include redness in and around the ear, swelling, crusty skin, and hair loss. Any of the aforementioned symptoms should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian immediately.
How can I protect my dog from ear troubles?
Simple and routine maintenance is often enough to safeguard dogs from ear troubles. Apply a cotton ball dampened with hydrogen peroxide or mineral oil to dirty areas of dogs' inner ears. The skin inside dogs' inner ears is delicate, so be gentle when cleaning such areas, even asking your veterinarian to show you the proper technique if you are concerned you might hurt the animal.
Some dogs, not unlike some dog owners, may grow hair in their ears. While the hair is relatively harmless, it's still a good idea to discuss its growth with your veterinarian, who can teach you how to remove the hair or even let you know if the hair needs to be removed at all.
It's important that dog owners do not clean their dog's ears too often. The skin inside dogs' ears is very sensitive, so overcleaning the ears can cause irritation.
When cleaning dogs' ears, dog owners should never insert anything inside their dogs' ear canals.
Dog owners who let their dogs go swimming from time to time should dry the dogs' ears immediately after they get out of the water. Make sure ears are as dry as possible before letting Fido run off, as wet ears can cause infection and irritation.
Ears may not be the first thing dog owners think of when trying to protect their pets from potentially painful health problems. But ear maintenance should be a part of every dog owner's dog-grooming routine. PE154075