Is your pooch having some issues with their ears? Perhaps you are wondering what the best dog ear cleaner is? You might be weighing up whether you should use a veterinary ear cleaner for dogs, or if an ‘all natural’ dog ear cleaner is a better option. Let’s have a closer look at dog ear cleaners, when to use them, and how they can help your furry friend to conquer their ear problems.
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When Do I Need to Use a Dog Ear Cleaner?
Ear cleaning is a preventative measure every dog owner should take. Regular ear cleaning not only ensures your pooch’s ears are kept clean and infection free. It is also a great opportunity to keep an eye on what is happening inside your dog’s ears. A study published in 1988 showed that dogs with pendulous ears are more likely to have trouble with ear infections.
So, if you have a dog with a pair of these long, floppy ears, it is particularly important to keep track of what is going on inside those ears. Wet ears tend to get infected, so if your dog is a keen swimmer, you may need to apply an astringent to help dry it out.
Does an Ear Cleaner for Dog Ear Infection Actually Work?
As a preventative measure, dog ear cleaner is a highly successful way to maintain the health of your dog’s ears. Excessive build-up of ear wax is one of the main contributing factors to problems developing inside your dog’s ears. One study in 2006 found that using simple saline solution as an ear cleaner is a cheap and effective way to break up excess ear wax.
How Does Dog Ear Cleaner Work?
When being used as a preventative measure, the purpose of dog ear cleaner is to loosen, soften and gently remove any build-up of wax or dirt. If you are using dog ear cleaner to maintain the cleanliness of your dog’s ears, it is best to use saline eye wash solution. Saline eye wash solution can easily be purchased either locally at a pharmacy or vet clinic, or online. It is also very cheap!
Using Your Dog Ear Cleaner
To clean out a dog’s ears, wet a cotton ball with the saline solution. Open the dog’s ear and gently place the ball in the ear. While holding the top of the ear open, gently massage the bottom part of your dog’s ear. You might hear a squelching sound — this is fine. After a bit of squelching, pull the cotton ball back out, and give your dog’s ear some time to dry.
Your dog may also want to shake its head a bit. This too is fine, as it may help dislodge wax that has been softened by the cleaning solution. If you are worried about how your dog will react to having their ears cleaned out, make sure you remain calm and positive while you carry out this activity. Convince your furry friend that this is a rewarding experience.
And in reality, it certainly is! Just like cleaning human ears, you should never use a cotton bud to clean out your dog’s ears. Using this could push wax further down the ear and cause more issues for your pooch.
If your dog has an infection in their ear/s, or seems to be experiencing some sort of discomfort, you should take your dog to the vet. Under the vet’s guidance, you may need to administer some more specialised form of treatment to resolve the issue.
Is a Human Ear Cleaner a Good Ear Cleaner for Dogs?
You should not put any medicated solution inside your dog’s ears that has not been checked and approved by a vet first. That includes ear cleaner that is meant for humans. Additionally, home remedies, particularly ones that involve vinegar (even diluted) should not be used in your dog’s ears. Some ingredients can further inflame the inside of the ear and result in more discharge.
What Conditions Can You Treat with Dog Ear Cleaner?
The most common cause of ear discomfort in dogs is otitis externa. This is a condition characterized by redness, swelling, itchiness, increased discharge from the ear, and scaly skin. A number of factors may be responsible for this condition developing. A trip to the vet is important to determine what the root cause of the issue is. We will talk about the most causes for otitis externa, and how they are treated below.
Dog Ear Infection Cleaner
If your dog is suffering from a bacterial ear infection, your vet may suggest topical application of a product that contains antibacterial properties. They will most likely want to regularly check on your pooch’s progress, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly. At these appointments they will perform further cleaning and tests to ensure that the infection has gone.
Typically, it can take up to four weeks for your dog’s ears to fully heal. If your dog’s ear infection is severe, along with antibacterial drugs, your vet may also prescribe corticosteroids. These will help to reduce the pain, swelling and discharge.
Antifungal Dog Ear Cleaner – Best Dog Ear Cleaner for Yeast
Yeast is a type of fungus. So, while you may hear these conditions referred to as if they are different issues, they are in fact one and the same. If your dog has a fungal ear infection, your vet will prescribe antifungal medication. This treatment will be administered and monitored in a similar manner to a bacterial infection as mentioned above.
Some infections (bacterial and fungal) can take months to go away, and some conditions are chronic in nature. If this is the case, your pooch will need to stay on the treatment prescribed by your vet.
Dog Ear Wax Cleaner
Excess ear wax is the precursor to most dog ear infections, so preventative ear cleaning is the best way to keep on top of this. If a lot of wax has already accumulated in the ear, then your veterinarian may need to perform the first couple of cleans. Your dog’s ears may be sore, and sometimes the dog needs to be anaesthetised to perform the clean to avoid injury to both you and your dog.
Your vet may need to carefully remove other foreign items inside the ear, such as hair. If the build-up is thick and waxy, your vet may need to use a cerumenolytic solution. This will work to break up the wax before any other treatments will penetrate to the skin.
Generally, after a couple of checks and cleans performed by your vet, the associated pain and infection may have cleared enough for you to start gently cleaning your dog’s ears in line with your veterinarian’s instructions.
In What Forms Can You Buy Dog Ear Cleaner?
There are a few options for purchasing your dog ear cleaner. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Dog Ear Cleaner Spray, Liquids, and Drops
Most ear cleaners, and many ear medications that your vet may suggest come in the form of liquids and drops. Be wary of recipes for sprays and drops you make up at home, their safety and efficacy may be questionable.
Dog Ear Cleaner Tablets
While tablets are not dog ear cleaners per se, your vet may prescribe certain medications to clear up secondary infections that may have developed. If your vet suspects your dog has developed a middle ear infection (otitis media), they will likely prescribe medications that need to be swallowed.
Gentle Ear Cleaner for Dogs
To clean out ears that are not irritated and infected already, it is best to use saline eye wash solution. These you can buy online* and administer yourself.
The saline solution is made up of salts and water is specific concentrations. This will not irritate the skin in the ear.
Can I Get a Natural Ear Cleaner for Dogs, or Can I Make a Homemade Dog Ear Cleaner?
Searching for the best natural dog ear cleaner undoubtedly springs from the best intentions, as many loving pet owners worry about exposing their pooches to strong chemicals that are not “natural”. There are a multitude of products available to purchase or make yourself at home that claim to be organic dog ear cleaner. Often, they contain essential oils or products you can find in the kitchen.
It is not recommended to use such remedies. For instance, products containing vinegar, even if it is diluted, can irritate and inflame the skin inside your dog’s ear and create further problems. In fact, one study published in 2006 found that ear cleaners made on olive oil and other oils were ineffective in breaking up ear wax. Interestingly, saltwater solutions started to break up ear wax within 15-20 minutes.
Should I Use a Vet Recommended Dog Ear Cleaner?
While in most cases a dog ear infection is not life threatening and can be easily treated. However, it can at times be the result of a more sinister underlying health issue. These include tumors, chronic skin conditions, parasitic infestations, allergies, and autoimmune diseases, just to name a few.
It is vital to determine the cause of the problem before you start treating it. Furthermore, it is also important that the treatment used is appropriate and will not make the problem worse. Home remedies have not been clinically trialled; therefore, their efficacy and safety cannot be guaranteed.
For maintenance cleaning, saline eye wash solution, as we have mentioned earlier in this article, is safe and gentle. It is basically a pH balanced solution made up of dissolved sodium chloride in water. Caring owners need not worry that this type of cleaner will cause any harm to a dog’s long-term wellbeing.
Is Medicated Ear Cleaner for Dogs Prescription Only?
There are many medicated ear cleaners for dogs that can be easily bought online. We have already discussed the dangers associated with diagnosing and treating your pooch without consulting the vet. However, products that can be purchased online are not all bad.
So, after checking in with your vet and confirming what kind of an ear problem your dog has, discuss treatment and purchasing options. If the product you have spotted online is appropriate to treat the issue, you might just be onto a winner.
What Harm Could Dog Ear Cleaner Do If Administered Incorrectly?
Are There Any Times I Should NOT Use a Dog Ear Cleaner? Even if your dog’s ears are healthy to begin with, placing certain medications and home remedies inside the ear can irritate them to the point that an infection can develop.
On the other hand, if your dog’s ears are already infected, even mildly, placing certain substances which would otherwise not cause irritation inside the ear may inflame the ear and make the infection much worse.
If your dog’s ears are blocked with wax, if your dog is displaying signs of discomfort around the ears, or if your dog has recently had ear hairs plucked. Regardless, you should not place anything down the ear without first checking with your vet. Particularly if you have a dog with big, floppy ears, keeping those ears clean and free from infection is a simple way of ensuring your dog is happy and comfortable.
Cleaning your dog’s ears need not be a long winded or complicated task, and the rewards for both you and your dog are worth it. We hope you have found this article on dog ear cleaners helpful. If you have any other questions, please feel free to mention them in the comments section below.
Affiliate link disclosure: Links in this article marked with an * are affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission if you purchase these products. However, we selected them for inclusion independently, and all of the views expressed in this article are our own.
Mansfield P.D., Preventive Ear Care for Dogs and Cats Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 1988
August, J.R., Otitis Externa: A Disease of Multifactorial Etiology Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 1988
Neer, T.M., et al Otitis Externa in Dogs MSD Veterinary Manual
Bernardo, F.M., et al A survey of mycotic otitis externa of dogs in Lisbon Rev Iberoam Micol, 1998
Carlotti, D.N., Diagnosis and medical treatment of otitis externa in dogs and cats Journal of Small Animal Practice, 1991
Rosenfeld, R.M., et al Clinical Practice Guideline Acute Otitis Externa Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 2014
Gatt, A.S., Xuereb, H.K.B., Reducing the expense of ear wax Malta Medical Journal, 2006
FDA Part 349 Ophthalmic Drug Products For Over-The-Counter Human Use
Moriello, K.A., Overview of Otitis Externa MSD Veterinary Manual
Hariharan, H., et al Update on antimicrobial susceptibilities of bacterial isolates from canine and feline otitis externa The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2006
Gotthelf, L.N., Diagnosis and treatment of otitis media in dogs and cats The veterinary Clinics Small Animal Practice, 2004
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