Listen Up: Cleaning Your Dogs Ears

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Cleaning our ears is about as much fun doing it for ourselves as it for our furry friends when they get it done. We all have about a million other things we’d rather be doing, yet it is one of the necessary chores of being a dog owner and being a dog. Ears get gunky, they need to be cleaned every so often – wash, rinse and repeat as necessary until Rex hears you when called. Unless he’s ignoring you, then that’s more a training issue than cleanliness.

All the same, ears don’t clean themselves, so it’s up to you valiant pet owner to limber up those fingers, squishy up some cotton balls and squirt the necessary ear cleaner to make things squeaky clean! For this, we’re going to reference everyone’s favorite, self-taught dog behaviorist Cesar Millan:

There are three important things that you need to know about dogs’ ears:
1. They’re sensitive, so they need regular maintenance to prevent infections.
2. Dogs don’t want their ears cleaned, so you’re going to have to work with them.
3. If you don’t do it the right way, you can cause serious damage.

Make it positive
Unless you want a squirmy pooch that makes the process a lot more difficult — and take a lot longer — it’s important to bring your dog along slowly and associate ear-cleaning with something positive. One tried-and-true method is to have a bag of treats ready to offer each time that your dog cooperates during the process.

Get the right tools
Just like with human ears, you never want to use cotton swabs because they can hurt your dog’s ears. Instead, have a bag of cotton balls ready, or wrap your finger in gauze and use it. You might want to use gloves for the cleaning, but it’s also okay to just wash your hands if no gloves are available. Perhaps the most important tool, though, is the ear rinse. You want one that’s completely safe for your dog but still able to get the job done. One product is Vetericyn Ear Rinse, which contains no antibiotics, steroids, alcohol, or toxic materials of any kind.

Put everything within reach
The last thing you want when trying to clean your dog’s ears is to discover halfway through the process that you forgot something and have to get up to find it. Do this and you’ll likely find yourself needing to wrangle your dog back into position and possibly even having to start the whole process over.

Follow the rules
To clean your dog’s ears without causing harm, you want to start on the outside and work your way in — but only until you start to feel resistance. If you try to push further in, you can damage your dog’s ear, so err on the side of caution. Wet a cotton ball with ear rinse and wipe the part of the ear that you can easily see, the outer flap. Then wet a new cotton ball to clean the inner ear. Ideally, you want to do this about once a week.

Following those few simple steps can make the process go all the smoother, which when you have your finger in such a sensitive area, is probably a good idea. Be gentle, calm and try to make it as great an experience as possible for your pet using the appropriate tools and the job gets done with minimal fuss and muss. After all, when your canine companion rests their head on you lap, where is the first place you reach to scratch?

See, clean ears benefit you too.

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