An ear infection is one of the top ten reasons pet owners take their furry friends to the vet. It's of the utmost importance to know how to take care of your pet’s ears because it can save your pet from suffering discomfort, and potentially save you money on the vet’s bills.
Whether you have a dog or a cat, they will each need a certain amount of basic ear hygiene to remove excessive wax and dirt from their ear canals.
Routine Ear Cleaning for Cats and Dogs
How often you will need to clean your pet’s ears will depend on several factors. For example, puppies and kittens will need a little more frequent attention because they tend to get grubbier and they are just learning about grooming. Dogs with large, floppy ears will also need more attention than dogs with smaller ears that stand up.
Your vet can recommend a suitable ear cleaning solution for your dog or cat. You should avoid any cleaners that contain hydrogen peroxide or alcohol as these chemicals can irritate your pet’s ears.
Cleaning your Cat’s Ears
It’s a good idea to check your cat’s ears every month for debris and bad odors. Your pet's ears may not need cleaning this often, but it’s better to be on the safe side.
- Make sure your cat is calm and sitting or lying comfortably. It may help to have a second person holding her.
- Gently pull back the ear and using a Q-tip, clean with a vet-recommended cleaning solution. Only clean the outermost folds of the ear. Using the Q-tip on the inner ear will push dirt deeper into the ear canal and cause damage or an infection, so be careful not to do this.
- Rub the back of the ear. This will encourage your cat to shake out any excess solution within the ear.
- Using a piece of soft gauze, gently dry inside the ear.
- Repeat with the other ear.
- Give your cat a special treat when it’s all over.
Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears
It’s best to check your dog’s ears once a month. Look for dirt and debris and check for unpleasant odors in your pet's ears.
- Instruct your dog to sit and stay. Having a second person to gently stroke your dog while you are cleaning his ears can help him to stay calm.
- Using a cotton swab or pad and your preferred cleaning solution, clean the visible outer folds of the ear. Never attempt to put anything into the ear canal as this can push dirt or wax buildup further into the ear and cause an infection or hearing damage.
- Gently dry the ear folds with a soft piece of gauze.
- Repeat with the other ear.
- Remember to treat and pet your bur baby for being so patient.
Things to Look Out for in Your Pet’s Ears Here are some specific conditions to look for when you are checking your pet’s ears:
- Excessive ear wax: A buildup of ear wax is one of the most common ear conditions in both dogs and cats. Some breeds, such as Shar-Pei dogs, tend to accumulate ear wax more than others.
- Ear mites: If you can see tiny ear mites in your pet’s ears, you should take her to the vet for treatment. These critters are contagious and can cause a lot of irritation. However, you will still need to clean your pet's ears during treatment to avoid a buildup of debris from the mite infestation.
- Allergies: If your pet has an allergy, she may be more prone to ear infections because of the sensitivity of the skin lining the ear. In this case, you will need to clean your pet’s ears more frequently.
If your dog likes to swim, always check your pet's ears after he’s been in the water. This will ensure that no dirt or debris has gotten inside. It’s also a good idea to dry your dog’s ears after swimming.
Keeping your pet’s ears clean is an important part of their general health and wellbeing. If you are uncertain of how or how often to clean your pet’s ears, consult your vet. Always use a recommended cleaning solution that is endorsed by your vet clinic.