Canine Ear Wellness: The New Complete Owner’s Guide For 2024

Regularly cleaning our dogs’ ears is not the funniest thing in the world — that’s putting it likely — but it’s an essential part of owning a dog. As a dog parent, you should inspect your dog’s ears weekly or whenever you notice a foul smell coming from its ears. This is why we came up with this canine ear wellness guide to help you throughout the process

In this article, we’re going to walk you through a canine ear wellness that entails the cleaning process, from diagnosing and treating ear infections to how to use ear drops for dogs. By learning how to properly clean your dog’s ears, you can keep buildups and infections away. Here are two great options our researchers have found.

Dog ear care products

Why Doesn’t My Dog Like Their Ears Cleaned? 

Many times, our dogs are perfectly fine with having their ears touched until they aren’t. Regular ear cleaning doesn’t need to occur until a problem is seen or smelled. However, by that point, there is likely a decent size and potentially painful blockage occurring deep in their ear canal, which is much deeper than ours. As well, a dog’s ear canal curls around their face, whereas ours is straight, and this makes it harder for them to shake out water and grime that gets stuck deep down. That’s the first reason your dog doesn’t like having their ears touched and cleaned. 

Next, due to the shape of their ear canal, many pet parents mess up the ear-cleaning process by not removing enough of the cleaning liquid from their ears. Besides the sensation of liquid pouring down their ear canals just not feeling great, a dog can quickly learn to hate having their ears cleaned because their ears feel even more clogged than before. 

If you notice your dog continues to shake their head excessively for several minutes after clearing their ears, carefully lay them on their back and tilt their head back to allow the liquid to drain out. If that sounds confusing or odd, once you see an image of a dog’s ear canal and how it curls, it will make complete sense. 

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears When They Hurt

It’s common to expect some pain when you go to clear your dog’s ears if they have a blockage or infection. However, aggressive behavior such as growling or snapping should not be ignored, as there are several oral medications for pain control your veterinarian can prescribe. Additionally, if your dog is showing significant pain when their ears are touched, the issue may be greater than what you can handle at home and require a professional cleaning. 

Over-The-Counter Treatment Options 

Ear drops for dogs are the most common over-the-counter treatment option and work in most cases. It’s always a smart idea to just have an ear cleaner on hand, so you can clear your dog’s ears the second you notice they need cleaning. As well, ear drops for dogs and cats are fairly inexpensive and have a decent shelf life. 

Different ear cleaners will have slightly different directions, but most are used in the same way. You simply squirt a few drops into your dog’s ears and massage their ears at the base to work the liquid cleaner through. Make sure to hold your dog’s face in place because they will aggressively shake their ears the second they are able to. This is why it’s always a good idea to hover a towel around their ears/face to catch gunk that will go flying everywhere. 

Some ear cleaners will come with a dryer solution that will help remove moisture from the ear canals. A dryer is especially good for larger dogs with deep ear canals and floppy-eared dogs, but it is helpful in nearly all cases. 

Veterinary Treatments 

Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s ears during their annual checkup. If they see they are dirty or notice a smell, they may prescribe your dog simple ear drops for dogs or suggest sedation and anesthesia if they suspect a serious infection. 

Your vet will probably administer the ear drops during the visit, allowing you to see how to properly perform the cleaning at home. This additionally allows the vet to monitor the dog’s reaction, and if they notice pain or swelling, they may prescribe a pain control or anti-inflammatory medication. 

Cleaning A Dog’s Ears Who Hates Having Them Touch 

Some dogs just don’t like having their ears touched, whether they feel painful to the touch or not. For this reason and others, training your dog to wear a muzzle as a puppy is highly recommended. Anxiety is often the culprit behind this type of aggression, so always make sure you are comforting your dog during the process. You never want to yell or be aggressive, but you don’t want to coddle them too much, as this can assure them that their anxiety is warranted. 

You never want to start off the cleaning process if your dog is already in a heightened state. Aim to clear their ears when they are calm and not full of energy. This means you probably want to clear their ears during the middle of the day or late at night and not around meals or playtime. 

Last, you should only clean your dog’s ears in a place they feel comfortable in. This means you may have to clear their ears outside of the bathroom/tub, so make sure to have a towel handy because they will shake!

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