Ear problems are a common problem for dogs no matter what their sex, size, or breed. From simple earwax to more complex problems such as ear mites, imbedded plant parts, and infections.
Ear infections can be caused by a great many things such as not cleaning the ear on a regular basis, hot and humid weather, yeast or fungus, or parasite infestations. Signs of an ear infection include excessive shaking or scratching, unpleasant odor, and temporary deafness.
Odor may be the first thing you notice when the ear canal is infected. Some causes include parasites, bacteria, and yeast. Ear infections not only smell bad, but they can be painful for your dog. An ear infection has a brown or yellow waxy discharge with a foul odor. The best way to prevent most ear problems is to maintain your dogs ears on a regular basis.
Ear wash solutions are great for cleaning the nooks and crannies of your dogs ears. Many ear wash solutions contain a mild disinfectant and contain solvents to remove earwax and accumulated dirt. Use a wash solution once or twice a week to keep the ears clean. Never use Q-tips in a dogs ear as this can cram material against the eardrum and cause major damage.
Some longer haired dog breeds have problems with hairs growing down into the ear canal. These hairs should be removed at the same time the dog is being groomed.
Dogs that are kept outside and confined in a small area can have problems with biting flies. Biting flies seem to love the thin skin of the ear where they can bite and suck blood. Foreign bodies, such as foxtails or other plant materials are a major threat to a dogs ears. Hematoma is a condition that is caused by scratching or shaking of the ears to the point that the tiny blood vessels are damaged.
A cotton swab can be used to clean the outer part of the ear, but should not be used in the ear canal. Cotton swabs can push buildup farther down in the ear if used in the canal, and could even rupture the ear drum if inserted too far or if the dog moves while the swab is being used. To be safe, clean only the parts of the ear that are visible.
Ear problems are usually minor, requiring only cleaning or short-term medication to correct. However, if left untreated, ear infections can spread throughout the ear and lead to more serious problems requiring extensive treatment.