Pet Ear Care Grooming Tips

posted: 05/15/12
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How often should a pet's ears be cleaned?

How often to clean depends on the pet and how many predisposing factors it has. Cats do not need to have their ears cleaned on a regular basis. With dogs, it varies. You can tell if their ears need cleaning if you can see a build up of wax. Dogs that go swimming or have an active outdoor life might need them cleaned on a weekly basis or more often if they get water in their ear canal. I usually recommend ear cleaning at least every two weeks for dogs, and only if instructed by your vet for cats. Regular ear cleaning can drastically reduce the number of infections your pet develops.

Do long-eared dogs require special care or attention?

Long-eared breeds like poodles and cocker spaniels are predisposed to ear infections — because the ear is closed over, no air circulates and it sets up an environment for bacteria to grow. Long-eared breeds might need to have their ears cleaned weekly.

What signs might indicate a pet has an ear infection or needs to see a vet?

Common signs of an ear infection include:

- Scratching at ears

- Foul odor

- Head tilt

- Shaking head

- Debris or redness in ears

- Holding ears at a funny angle 

Factors that predispose pets to ear infections:

- Breeds with long, heavy, floppy ears, like poodles, retrievers, basset hounds and spaniels

- Pets that make excessive wax

- Hair in ear canal

- Dogs that swim

- Dogs and cats with allergies

- Tumors, polyps, or foreign bodies in the ear

- Hypothyroidism 

The bottom line is to learn what your pet's ears normally look like so you'll spot a problem early—before a severe infection or illness sets in.

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