Maybe caring for your dogs ears is not a priority for you. Some lucky dogs never have dirty ears and some will never have an ear infection in their life.
But for many small breed dogs, ear problems can become chronic. This group of dogs are prone to infected ears and their owners spend considerable amount of time and money on keeping those little ears healthy.
Which dogs are at risk? There are four categories of small dogs that can have problems with their ears:
Sounds like an ideal way to spend a day if you are a dog, but sometimes these lucky dogs end up with problem ears. Water in the ear canal, whether it is from the bath or the ocean can create a moist environment for bacteria and yeast to grow.
Those that love swimming pools can be affected by the chlorine and other chemicals needed to keep the pool clean. Small dogs who enjoy a swim in a lake, river or ocean are also exposed to additional germs. We all know that these bodies of water are not sterile.
Dogs that roll in the grass can pick up foreign objects that stick to the inside of ears creating irritation that leads to infection. For dogs that enjoy long walks in the woods, there is always the possibility of picking up a tick or two or other foreign object.
Many small breed dogs have hair in their ear canal and that hair continues to grow unless it is removed. If hair is not plucked out periodically, ear wax can clump on the hair along with anything else creating a warm, moist, dark environment that bacteria and yeast love.
Dogs with little erect ears are not necessarily immune from ear infections, but they are much less likely to be plagued with dirty ears and painful infections.
Dogs that have thick, heavy ears that hang low are most susceptible to ear infections. Spaniels as a group are most likely to have at least one if not more infections over the course of their lifetime.
For many dogs, ear infections are just one symptom of a bigger problem such as allergies or a hormonal imbalance. Without treating the underlying problem, these dogs can end up having chronic ear infections regardless of the type of ear anatomy they might have.
Caring for your dogs ears is a three step process that does not need to be time consuming, but can reap benefits to your small breed dog.
Dog owners become keen observes not only to the dog's behavior, but also their health. Observing ears need not be time consuming and can be done while both of you watch television.
Look for redness, swelling, discharge, or the presence of little specs of what appear to be coarse black pepper. Smell the ear canal. Does it have an odor? Is there a discharge (dark brown, yellowish, or bloody)? Any of these signs should alert you to a possible infection.
Stop and call to make a veterinary appointment. If any of these symptoms are present, it will be a judgement call on you to determine if you want to continue with step two: cleaning.
Some infections are so painful that even the slightly touch can be excruciating to your dog. When it gets this bad, the veterinarian may need to anesthetize the dog, just to clean out the ear. Always err on the side of caution.
Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms affecting your dogs ears: These may be signs infections
Not all dogs need their ears cleaned. Never fix what is not broken.
If the ears look fine, leave them alone. There is no need to clean them and anything you introduce into the ear canal can disrupt the delicate ph balance.
For dogs that have a slight waxy buildup, a moist or dry cotton ball maybe all that is needed. If this is your dog, dip a cotton ball into a little warm water and wipe out the ear canal, where ever you can see. There's no need to use cotton tip applicators as they can push wax farther down into the ear canal. Dry the ear with a dry cotton ball, and you are done.
For all other dogs, owners, please read on...
Before cleaning, I gather my materials so that I will not need to stop and find an item. Items you might want to have on hand include:
If your small
breed dog has ear hair, you will want to remove it periodically to prevent ear infections. Ear wax, ear hairs, moisture from swimming or
bathing, and any other debris creates a fertile ground for an infection to
brew. Most ear infections are caused by yeast
or bacteria and anything that gets trapped in the canal is likely to
remain. The anatomy of a dog’s ear canal
creates an environment where any debris or water gets trapped making it very
difficult to get out on its own.
Some dogs do not mind at all and others will squirm and wiggle. This procedure is uncomfortable but not painful. I like to compare it to plucking eyebrows, if you have ever done this.
REMINDER: If you take your dog to a professional groomer every six to eight weeks, the groomer will perform this procedure for you.
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