Ear Wax in Dogs

By | March 14, 2016
(Last Updated On: January 6, 2017)

Ear rinse for dogs Introduction

Just as is the case with human beings, the ears are important to your dog’s daily routine. Aside from the fact that they are a vital source of audio-information and help in maintaining body balance, they also assist in maintaining normal body temperatures by gradually radiating excess body heat. In the event that a dog’s ears become blocked with wax or discharge, they begin to operate below par and become irritable and in most cases stink. The great news is that ear wax in dogs and most other issues can be treated and managed even using commercially available products at home.

Here is what will be covered in this post:

  1. How to Identify Ear Wax in Dogs
  2. Causes
  3. Complications
  4. Home and Professional Ear Treatment for Dogs
  5. Summary and Conclusions

1. How to Identify Ear Wax in Dogs

A swift inspection of the ear flap and the auditory canal is able to give you most of the information you require. It is advisable to start by examining the external ear flap for anomalies such as hair loss, crusty ear wax, puncture wounds, and irritations. Next, gently lift the ear flap up, flattening it against the top of your dog’s skull so as to expose the ear canal underneath. This will give you a clear line of sight to the inside of your dog’s ear flap and to the entry of your dog’s vertical ear canal. The skin inside the ear flap should be pink with a light veneer of pale-yellowish wax. If the ears look red or have a black or dark brown discharge then there is a problem.

Crusty ear waxIt is a commonly known fact that healthy ears do not have an odor. This means you can be able to sniff out any dog ear problems! You should make a habit of smelling your dog’s ears, start when they are still puppies, so as to get used to their normal smell. If they smell stinky or yeasty, it is likely that a yeast or bacterial infection is developing.

Here are some of the indicators that your dog may have an ear problem:

  • Ear discharge and odor;
  • Your dog feels pain when his or her ears are touched;
  • The dog keeps angling its head to one side;
  • Your dog relentlessly scratches its ears against furniture or the carpet and paws its ears;
  • The dog constantly circles or stumbles to one side,
  • Your dog keeps shaking its head;
  • The dog’s ear(s) seem to be swollen.

In case you need to acquire a sample of the discharge, get a cotton swab in your dog’s ear. Using your non-dominant hand, hold the dog’s head gently and steadily; then use your dominant hand to place the cotton swab at the entry of your dog’s ear canal, using a mild twirling motion. It is advisable not to go in further than half an inch, then gently withdraw the swab while slowly swiping the sides of the ear canal.

2. Causes

Ear flush for dogsMost ear conditions in dogs are caused by allergies, moisture, foreign objects and parasites.

Allergies, such as food allergies, may also cause ear problems. Dogs usually shake their heads or persistently scratch their ears in case they have an allergic reaction, in an effort to relieve themselves of the itchiness and swelling.

Moisture inside the ear may cause yeast and bacterial infections. Therefore it is important to keep your dog’s ears as dry as possible especially if your dog is in the habit of swimming or if you live in a region with humid climate or have a dog with low-hanging ears such as Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, or Bloodhounds.

Dirt particles and plant debris are the most common foreign objects that enter a dog’s ears. If the debris makes its way down the ear canal it may cause an infection. In the event that foreign objects travel down the ear canal, they could cause perforations to the ear drum and other forms of internal damage to the ear.

Fleas, ticks and microscopic ear mites are the common parasites among dogs that are often contracted from one dog to another. Ticks like to latch onto a dog’s ears since they are an easy source of blood. These parasites will often leave signs of their presence. Fleas leave dry blood flecks. Ear mites leave black or brown debris. Ticks will look like small dark smooth lumps stuck to your dog’s ear or skin lumps in case they have burrowed under the skin. It is critical to act swiftly in case you notice a problem with your dog’s ears so as to prevent any permanent damage.

3. Complications

What to clean dogs ears with

Otitis externa (outer-ear infection). A waxy, reddish-brown or yellow ear discharge can be an indicator that your dog has an ear infection, which can be a result of mites, allergies, polyps, overproduction of ear wax, excessive swimming or bathing (which may lead to excess moisture in the ears).

A problem such as Otitis externa needs quick attention from your veterinarian. Treating an external ear infection will require antibiotics as well as an oral medication, anti-fungal lotion, an ear-cleaning or ear-drying solution. Chronic issues may necessitate surgery.

Otitis interna (inner-ear infection) or otitis media (middle-ear infection). An uncontrolled external ear infection may effortlessly lead to a very agonizing middle or inner ear infection; both have similar signs to otitis externa, coupled with the hesitancy to open the mouth or difficulties with balance. Some dogs tend to walk in circles or become woozy.

Treatment of the middle or inner ear infections needs antibiotics, flushing of the ear, or surgery in case the infection is severe.

4. Home and Professional Ear Treatment for Dogs

How to treat ear infections in dogsIt has always been said that “prevention is better than cure”. Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears will prevent and stop infections before they get serious. Before applying an ear flush for dogs however, ensure that you have the following bits and pieces: sterile gauze or cotton balls and antiseptic cleaning solution specially created for dogs’ ears (veterinarians usually sell these products). Always consult with your veterinarian first before employing any ear rinse for dogs or other cleaning products so as to ensure you are caring for your dog’s ears properly and safely.

Caution: Never use Q-tips or alcohol when cleaning your dog’s ears. Alcohol is bound to irritate your dog’s skin resulting in an allergic reaction and Q-tips, like when used for people, can destroy a dog’s ear drums and force foreign objects even further down the ear canal.

Some medications are efficient in treating multiple symptoms concurrently, and your veterinarian is the best source for such medications; mainly in cases where the symptoms are complicated by self-inflicted trauma.

You need a veterinarian to help treat severe external or internal ear infections. In most severe cases antibiotics, oral medication, an ear-cleaning or ear-drying solution and antifungal lotion are applied. Chronic complications may demand for surgery.

5. Summary and Conclusions

Ear discharge in dogs is actually a symptom of an underlying issue, such as an ear infection or mites. Ear problems when left unchecked may lead to agonizing pain. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility as a caring owner to be conversant with the symptoms of dog ear problems, how to prevent them and the steps to take when they occur.

Preventing ear problems before they start can help your dog have a happy life. Every time your dog’s ears swell from infection, the wax glands inside become more active, while at the same time the ear canal gets wounded and narrows, making it more susceptible to infections in the future. You can help your dog’s ears to remain healthy by taking the following precautionary steps:

  • Examine your dog’s ears every 2 weeks; check for odor, dirt, and foreign bodies.
  • Keep the inside of your dog’s ears clean. Too much wax build-up blocks airflow in the ear and may lead to an infections.
  • In case your dog swims a lot, you may ask your vet for ear-drying product solutions to clean out the ear canal.

Always remember “prevention is better than cure”.

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