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Why is plucking the ears beneficial?

The ears grow hair and in some breeds this hair is excessive. It literally “clogs” the ears and does not allow the moisture in the ear to dry out. The hair stops the ear from “breathing”. This increase in moisture allows yeast to grow – this yeast is what some owners call “dirt”. To prevent this yeast from growing and causing irritation to the ears it is necessary to remove the hair from the ear canal. Clipping the hair short does not achieve this. The hair needs to be plucked from the canal.

Why do my dog's ears smell?

Dogs have certain glands inside their ears that produce wax or an oily based substance. This is to keep the ear canals moist and not dry out. In some dogs (especially if the dog has a lot of hair in the ears) this oily based substance is excessive and holds the moisture too long. In this broth of moisture grows an organism called a yeast.

It is this yeast that causes the smell of the dog’s ear.

Why does my dog shake its head?

Because it has some form of ear irritation. This irritation can be associated with foreign bodies such as grass seeds. The irritation can be associated with allergic reactions. But the biggest reason the dog will shake its head it because it has some form of infection.

Can I buy ear drops over the counter?

There are two different forms of ear drops – there are “open sellers” that cleanse the ear and dry the ear out but do not kill bacteria or yeast. These drops can be bought at any time.

Then there are the prescription ear drops that contain medication to remove irritation, downgrade allergies, kill bacteria and yeast. These ear drops can ONLY be prescribed by a vet once they have examined the animal.

Is wiping my dog’s ears out OK?

If you are only using a damp or dry cloth and not going down the ear canal further than you can easily with your small finger then it is OK to wipe your dog’s ears. Remember to get between the little lumps in the ears if you are trying to wipe out the “dirt” inside the ear.

Do NOT hurt the dog and do not rub too hard or you may damage the protective covering in the ear canal.

If I apply "ear cleaning" drops regularly will that prevent problems?

The answer to this question varies between veterinarians. We do NOT recommend that ear cleaning drops are applied unless there is a medical problem that requires these form of drops. These drops are based on alcohol and acid and can literally burn the ear or dry out the normal moist mucous membranes and predispose to bacterial infections.

A normal dog does not need these drops and a dog with ear problems will become agitated from these drops. BUT there are some dogs who will benefit from getting these drops – leave it to your vet to recommend them before starting to use them.

My dog’s ear lobe is all swollen up – what could it be?

Most of the time a swollen ear lobe is called a haematoma and is caused by a broken blood vessel in the inside of the ear lobe and there is a large blood clot under the skin. A haematoma is usually not sore to touch but is uncomfortable for the animal. The dog will usually hold its ear on the side and shake its head because of the discomfort.

We recommend all heamatomas are examined by a veterinarian who will advise the best treatment.

I have a long haired dog who is always getting ear infection. Is this a common problem?

Yes it is. Long haired dogs often “clog” their ears with hair and this does not allow the ear to “breathe”. As the moisture and the wax builds up in the ear a real broth starts to develop that allows yeast and bacteria to grow and cause irritation. We recommend that dogs with long hair get their ears plucked regularly and the hair is clipped away for the ear canal.

My dog has blood coming from the ear margins – why?

This is called Ear Margin Dermatosis and is associated usually with mosquito bites or sandfly bites. The ear margin attracts the biting insects and they cause the skin to swell. Often this area becomes infected and starts the dog scratching its ears or flicking its head. Your vet will tell you the main treatment and prevention for this problem.

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