All dogs should have their ears cleaned from time to time, but some dogs need more frequent and thorough cleaning than others, especially those prone to ear infections.
Why not discuss ear care with your veterinarian and put together a maintenance programme together with them?
When cleaning the ears, we focus on the external ear canal.
Ear wax and debris can easily build up in the ridges of the external canal. If irritation occurs, either from build-up or allergies, the canal can become infected. Lack of adequate airflow to the canal can increase the chance of infection. This is part of the reason dogs with long, floppy ears are prone to ear infections. However, some dogs also have a lot of glands in their ear canals that produce excessive secretions.
A couple of common dog breeds with genetic predispositions to ear infections include Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds. Typically, dogs with ear infections will have excessive bacteria or yeast in the ears. External ear infections cause itching and pain. They can also lead to middle-/inner-ear infections that affect hearing and balance. In addition, because dogs with itchy or sore ears tend to shake their heads violently, they can rupture blood vessels in the ear flap and end up with a pocket of blood in the flap called a haematoma. Signs of an ear infection include odour from the ears, frequent shaking of the head, redness of skin inside ears, excessive scratching at ears, and excessive ear discharge/debris.
Regular cleaning can help prevent ear infections. Using an appropriate ear cleaner, you can release wax and debris from the canal and help dry the ear. Dogs can build up wax and debris at a faster rate than people. Some dogs have very little ear build-up and simply need their ears wiped out occasionally. Other dogs need thorough ear cleanings every week or two. Over-cleaning can cause irritation, but under-cleaning can lead to infection.
Talk to your vet about your dog’s specific needs.