If your dog has long floppy ears, hairy ears, loves swimming, or has allergies, then you’re probably no stranger to ear infections. One in five dogs suffers from ear problems, so they are not uncommon, and with a few simple tips, you may be able to stop them in their tracks.
These floppy-eared breeds are most vulnerable to ear problems: Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Irish Setters, Basset Hounds, and Dachshunds. The following breeds have a lot of ear hair, so their ears don’t “air out” well: Bichon Frise, Schnauzers, and Poodles.
You should check your dog’s ears once a month, or more frequently if your pup is prone to infections. Gently look inside their ears for these signs of trouble:
- Is there redness, swelling, or scratches?
- Do the sniff test; do they smell funky?
- Are they crusty?
- Do you see any discharge?
- Has your dog been scratching at their ears?
- Have they been shaking their head?
- Does your dog’s balance seem off?
- Is their hearing decreased?
These are all common signs of an ear infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your pup to the vet for a look see. Many infections are caused by bacteria or yeast and will need to be treated with medication.
However, in the future the following tips will help head off ear infections before they start:
- Check ears at least once a month.
- Ask the vet for an ear cleaning solution and have him show you how to use it. Most vets will recommend using a cotton ball dampened with the solution and will advise you not to clean deeply in the ear or put Q-tips in the ear canal, just clean as far as you can easily see. A deep cleaning could make an infection worse.
- After baths and swimming be sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly.
- If your dog has very hairy ears ask your vet or groomer to remove some of the outer hair from them. You can buy small scissors that have blunt tips (so you don’t poke your dog – ouch) and trim the outer hair carefully yourself.
- Diet has a lot to do with health and allergies, so feed your dog a high-quality diet. Consider adding a daily Omega-3 fatty acid supplement (made for dogs) to their diet.
With a little regular care, you and your pup can have a fun, safe summer that includes swimming.