The special anatomy of cat and dog ears can create certain challenges. Infection and inflammation are common ailments that affect multiple parts of the ear, but injury can also occur. All problems in and around the ear have the potential for intense discomfort and should be properly addressed. Pet ear cleaning is just one way to promote overall health of this part of the body, and we’ve got some tips to help you get started!
A Closer Look
The outer ear is called the pinna. Dog breeds with long, floppy ears, those with a lot of hair around the ear, and swimmers are more prone to suffering ear infections. The pinna is also susceptible to bites, scratches, or abrasions.
The middle ear contains the fragile eardrum (tympanic membrane), small bones, an air-filled cavity, and a thin tube that leads to the back of the mouth.
The inner ear contains nerves and is comprised of the centers for hearing and balance. It also connects to the brain.
Pet ear cleaning can prevent or reduce issues related to the following:
- Infection (caused by yeast, mites, or bacteria)
- Inflammation from hair, dirt/dust, plant material, etc.
- Skin lesions or masses, such as polyps, viral papillomas, and different types of tumors
- Endocrine disorders, like Cushing’s disease, hyper/hypo-thyroidism, and other glandular problems that negatively affect the immune system
You may notice head shaking or tilting, excessive scratching of the area, odor, discharge, and behavioral changes.
Pet Ear Cleaning
It’s always a good idea to keep the hair trimmed around the outer ears. Before you get started with pet ear cleaning, gather the following supplies:
- 10-15 clean cotton balls
- A towel or blanket
- Pet ear cleaning solution (use pet-safe products)
Secure your pet on your lap or a table. Give them lots of praise (and maybe a treat or two!).
- Saturate a cotton ball with cleaning solution.
- Gently squeeze the cotton ball into the ear canal.
- Massage the fluid into the ear.
- Using a dry cotton ball, wipe away any debris.
- Never force cotton balls or your finger into the ear. Only use clean cotton balls inserted about ½ inch into the ear.
- Continue wiping in and around the ears until the cotton balls come out clean.
Afterwards, continuous draining of the solution and debris is 100% normal.
Pet ear cleaning may be conducted twice a month or as recommended by your veterinarian. If your pet swims or plays in the water, thoroughly dry their ears and pay attention to any signs of possible infection.