One of the many important things to do for your pet is to clean their ears. How do you know it is time to clean them? Well, you can start by looking at the visible parts of their ears at least once a week. If you notice a slight odor coming from the ear, see debris or ear wax, it may be time to clean their ears with ear flush that was approved by your veterinarian. This ear flush can be purchased from your veterinary clinic. It is recommended to flush your pet's ears whenever they have been exposed to water (after a bath, a swim, or if it was raining outside).
If you notice odor or redness/irritation in your dog or cat's ears, schedule an appointment with your pet's veterinarian. This is to make sure that your pet does not have an ear infection, a blockage, or other serious condition which may be causing symptoms. Your pet's veterinarian will use a special instrument called an otoscope.
Their training with an otoscope allows them to peer deeply into the canal to look for infection, trauma or foreign materials without causing damage to the ear. If needed, they will take a culture to determine what kind of infection your pet currently has and may treat it with a medication such as Mometamax or Posatex. Once your veterinarian has examined your pet to rule out serious medical conditions, they may recommend regular ear cleaning as part of their regular grooming routine.
PREPPING YOUR PET FOR EAR CLEANING
Once your veterinarian has advised an ear cleaning, you'll need to gather all the necessary materials for ear flushing. These items should include: cotton balls or gauze, ear flush, ear medication, treats, and most importantly a confident and positive attitude. Make sure that you choose a room that is easy to clean and away from anything edible or valuable (i.e. bathroom or mud room). Place all your cleaning materials within arm's reach, as you may need to pivot around depending on the calmness your pet. Remember to use positive reinforcement such as praise and treats to motivate your pet to be on their best behavior. Turn on some soothing music and speak in a calm, warm tone to try and keep the environment as low stress as possible. It's not uncommon for pets to become uncooperative when touching their ears. Similar to clipping nails, it is a good idea to start this routine as early as possible for your pet, as they will learn at a younger age that this is something that they should sit and tolerate. Make sure that you do not use cotton swabs inside the ear as they push down the wax further into the ear canal or can also cause injury to the inner ear. The only time you may use cotton swabs is to get rid of wax build-up in the outer ear which is the inside part of the ear flap. Do not move any closer than the vertical canal to avoid damaging any part of the ear.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR PET'S EARS
Now that you are equipped with more knowledge on ear issues, it is time to go over how to actually clean the ears! Once you have all of your materials set up, apply the ear flush as prescribed by your veterinarian. Massage the base of the ear gently. Then, with gauze or a cotton ball, wipe the outer ear to remove any visible loosened dirt or wax build-up. The gauze should trap any loose debris as you guide it out from the ear.Let your pet shake their head to loosen any other debris and check the ear once more to see if anything should be wiped out again with either another gauze or cotton ball. Repeat on the other side, if needed. If your veterinarian prescribed medication for your pet, read the labeled instructions and follow them accordingly. Pay attention while reading the instructions as some products require that the ear be dried before dosing while others do not.
Congratulations, you are now prepared to keep your pet's ears sparkly clean!
Written by Ruth Yang, a veterinary technician and dog mom to a floppy-eared Doberman who has become an expert ear cleaner.