Dog grooming-Caring for the ears! 5 symptoms of an ear infection

Dog grooming-how to Care for the ears

Dogs ears are prone to infection as you might already have noticed if you have a dog with problem ears. If your dog keeps getting infections here is some information that might help you deal with chronic ear infections.

Learn how to care for your dogs ears.  It is an important part of dog grooming. Dog ear infections are usually called Otits Externa; this means an infection in the outer ear. (Otis Interna means an infection of the inner ear). Outer ear infections account for 90% of the infections in dogs; making ear infection the most common infection for a dog to be treated for. Ear mites can often accompany ear infections.

Dogs with allergies may experience more ear infections than other dogs. It can be caused by wax build up inside the ear. It can also be caused by long hair blocking the passage of air and creating a buildup of not only wax but also dirt and debris.

Regular ear cleaning will also get the pet used to having his ears handled which will make it easier to administer treatment.

You can prevent these infections by cleaning your dogs ears well and as part of your regular grooming regime. Cleaning your dog’s ears is simple and you only need a soft cloth and some ear cleanser. Lift the ears and massage some cleanser into the ear this should loosen the dirt.

Regualr ear cleaning is a powerful preventative measure; particularly if you have a dog who is at a high risk for ear infections. Ear infections are more common in dogs that swim often for example. Water inside the ears can be a problem for dogs who are essentially not designed for water.

You can spot an ear infection on your dog when grooming by looking for the following tell tale signs:

-smelly ears

-discharge

-excessive head shaking

-swelling

-redness in the ears

If your dog seems uncomfortable or is excessively scratching their ears it’s probably causing a great deal of distress. If you pet is scratching too hard this can even break blood vessels and cause swelling and bleeding.

You can try cleaning your dogs ears with white vinegar to remove dirt from the ear and promote the growth of good bacteria. Use the vinegar in the same way as the ear cleanser – pour it on and wipe gently inside the ear with the cloth or cotton. This might help ease the infection or even clear it up if the problem was not too severe to start. If the infection is serious its time to call the vet. It can be cleared up easily. Most often the dog will need some antibiotics to help clear the problem. The Anatomy of a Dog’s Ear

It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with your dog’s anatomy for grooming care like this. This can help you prevent any damage and get a better understanding of what you’re looking at while cleaning. A dog’s ear is a fairly complex structure:

The visible outside flap of the ear is called the pinna. This pinna will flop in some dogs while in others it stands up straight. Floppy ears may allow less airflow to the ear canal, making some floppy-eared dogs more prone to ear infections.

Just inside the visible ear opening is the external canal. This canal travels down the side of the head (vertical canal), then takes a turn inward (horizontal canal). The canal is skin-covered and contains cartilage that creates ridges and creases on the surface. The external canal also contains glands that secrete wax and oils (sebum) into the ear.

The external canal ends at the eardrum (tympanic membrane). This is a thin piece of tissue that vibrates in response to sound waves and assists in hearing. The tympanic membrane also protects the middle and inner ear.
Beyond the eardrum is the middle ear followed by the inner ear. These areas contain the delicate structures associated with hearing and balance. Damage to the inner or middle ear can cause significant harm to a dog’s hearing and balance. In some cases, the damage is even permanent.

Preparing to Clean Your Dog’s Ears when dog grooming

The best place to clean your dog’s ears is in the tub or outside. This is a great thing to do just before a bath. Keep in mind that when the dog shakes its head, that ear debris and cleaner has to go somewhere, and that includes your walls and you, so beware. You may wish to wrap a towel around your dog or place one under it to keep it clean and dry. You may also want a towel to keep you dry

Before cleaning the ears, inspect them.

This gives you an idea of how dirty they are and lets you check for excess hair. If your dog has a lot of hair coming from the ear canal, it may need to be plucked. You can do this with your fingers, tweezers, or hemostats. A special ear powder made for dogs may be helpful in gripping the hair. Talk to your groomer or vet’s office about how to properly pluck the ears without hurting your dog.

Add Ear Cleaner

Begin by holding the ear flap up and squirting a few drops of ear cleaner on the inside of the flap near the ear opening. Next, gently place the tip of the bottle into the ear and give it a gentle squeeze.

Massage the Ear

Before the dog can shake its head, begin massaging the base of the ear (this is the bottom part near the jaw where cartilage can be felt). You should be able to hear a smacking sound.

By massaging, you are helping the cleanser fill the ridges in the canal and loosen ear debris. After massaging for a few seconds (more for very dirty ears) you can let go and allow your dog to shake. You might want to turn away or hold up a towel for this part.

Wipe the Ear Canal

Once your dog has a good shake, lightly moisten cotton or gauze with ear cleaner. Use the cotton or gauze with your finger to wipe out the ear canal. You can put your finger in the ear canal as far as it will go without forcing it.

You may wish to use cotton-tipped applicators to clean stubborn debris out of the ridges of your dog’s ear.

If the ear still seems dirty, repeat the process. Stop if your dog’s ear begins to get red or bleed or your dog seems to be in pain.

Move on to the other ear and repeat all the steps. Finish by wiping away any visible debris and drying your dog’s head off. Make sure to offer a treat reward and plenty of praise.

If your dog has recurring ear infections the vet might suggest that you clip the hair around the ear or the vet might clip the hair around the ear. This often helps. If the problem is more extreme than that the vet might suggest surgery to allow for easier drainage of the ear canal.

Some breeds are more prone to chronic ear infections than others any breed of dog with large ears or particularly small ears will get ear infections easier than some other breeds. Now that you know what to look for you should be able to detect ear infections before they become a serious problem.  Read this post to find out more about the different breeds that are prone to ear infections.  Read this post to find out more about cleaning your dog’s ears.

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