Ear diseases are a common condition in pets, often centered around the outer ear canal. The medical name for inflammation of the outer ear canal is ‘otitis externa.’ Common signs of ear disease include:
- Excessive ear scratching or rubbing ears against objects
- Head shaking or tilting
- Odor that may remind you of yeast, sweat socks or a sewer
- Redness & bleeding
- Matted fur around the ears
- Pain around the ears
- Changes in behavior such as depression or irritability
The most common causes of ear diseases include moisture, parasites and bacterial or yeast infections. Fortunately, if these problems are not severe you can tackle them yourself.
Start by improving the ear environment
Bacteria and yeast could not ask for a better environment to live in than a warm, dark, moist ear canal, and they can cause severe ear problems! Just look at the shape of a dog’s ear canal — it’s practically an incubator for problems.
Yeasty ears typically have a dark reddish brown buildup of waxy gunk around the folds of the ears and deeper within the ear canal itself, and/or a pungent, yeasty odor. Either is an indicator of unhealthy ears. Daily cleaning of the ears is a must before things go from bad to worse. Depending on the condition of the ears, it may take a few cleanings to clear all the yeast and debris. Once things are cleared out, keep them sparkling with regular maintenance cleanings.
How to clean your dog’s ears
This is one of those times when you really need the right tool for the job. Get yourself a good veterinary ear cleaner or flush designed for removing pathogens and sticky debris. We recommend Boracetic Ear Flush because it gently but effectively eliminates ear conditions associated with bacteria, yeast and fungi. It also provides relief for ear inflammation & pain, discharge, pruritus and head shaking. It’s great for flushing oily or crusty ears and most importantly — flushing out the yeast mites feed on. Anyway, grab your ear flush and let’s get busy.
- Give your pet a treat for sitting and show her the ear cleaner.
- Gently hold the flap of the ear upright and fill the ear canal with ear cleaner. Direct the tube vertically downwards.
- Keep ahold of the ear and move your hand down to where the ear meets the head.
- Massage at the base of the ear, aiming to mix the ear cleaner around within the ear canal. You should get a squelchy noise if you are doing this correctly.
- After you have massaged the ear for 20–30 seconds, stand back and let go of the ear. Your dog should now vigorously shake his head.
- Grab some cotton balls and use it to wipe out the folds at the opening of the ear canal until it looks pretty clean.
- Repeat until you can’t get any more matter out.
- Give your dog a treat and move on to the other ear.
The key with ear cleaning is to use a liberal amount of ear cleaner. As the ear canals are quite long, the wiping step is not enough to get all the ear discharge out. The idea is that when you massage, you will be breaking up the discharge lining the inside of the ear canal, so that it forms a solution with the ear cleaner. Your pet can then shake the liquid out.