A Guide to Healthy and Happy Dog Ears - The Brooklyn

Authored by Hunter Garrod | Pet Sleep Specalist

Does your pup often tilt their head to one side? This could be more than just wanting a biscuit and may signal that something is up with their ears. 

As a responsible pup owner, understanding your furry friends' ear health is not something to be overlooked. From their impressive sensitivity to noise (they hear four times the amount humans do!), to using their ears to communicate emotions, our pups' ears are a vital part to their overall health and happiness. 

Today we’re delving into the wonderful world of doggy ear health. In this blog we’ll walk you through common ear problems our pup’s experience and how to prevent them. From understanding their ear language to uncovering why floppy ears need a little extra TLC, we’ve got you covered! 

1. The Anatomy Of A Dog Ear 

The anatomy of our pups’ ear’s is actually more intricate than we might think! Beneath the soft outer layer is over a dozen muscles that give your pup the ability to move their ears with remarkable control.

Your dog’s ear is made up of three parts; inner, middle and outer, with each part playing a crucial role in their hearing and balance.

Different breeds of dog tend to rock different shaped ears. From the erect and perky ears of German Shepherd’s to the droopy ears of Cocker Spaniels, each shape serves a purpose. Pups with longer, droopy ears use them to direct scents straight to their nose. However, this can create additional challenges such as regular ear problems and infections. Their long ears allow less air flow, meaning debris and moisture can easily become trapped in the ear canal, resulting in yeast infections.

Every pup is wonderfully unique with different ear shapes, sized and sensitivity. It’s crucial to clean your puppy's ears with gentleness and consideration. We recommend taking the time to understand your dog’s individual ear anatomy and tailoring your cleaning process specially to them. You can find how to properly clean your puppy's ears here.

2. Common Ear Problems

Otitis Externa - This is an inflammation of the outer ear canal, often caused by bacterial or yeast infections. It's common in dogs with floppy ears. Symptoms include redness, discharge, odour, and the dog frequently scratching or shaking its head.

Ear Mites - These tiny parasites are more common in puppies and can cause intense itching. Signs include a dark, crusty discharge from the ear, similar to coffee grounds, and excessive scratching or rubbing of the ears.

Yeast Infections - Caused by an overgrowth of yeast, these infections produce a distinct musty odour. Symptoms include brown, yellow, or bloody discharge, redness, swelling, and the dog frequently shaking its head or scratching its ears.

Bacterial Infections - These can occur on their own or alongside other ear problems. Symptoms are similar to yeast infections, including discharge, odour, redness, and discomfort.

Allergic Reactions - Allergies to food, pollen, mould, or dust mites can cause ear problems in dogs. Symptoms include ear inflammation, itching, and recurrent ear infections.

Foreign Bodies - Grass seeds, dirt, or other foreign objects can become lodged in a dog's ear canal, leading to irritation, infection, and discomfort.

3. Preventative Care For Dog Ears

Routine Checks - We recommend getting into the habit of routinely checking your dog’s ears about once per week, especially if your dog has previously suffered with ear problems and infections. Getting into the habit of routinely checking our pups ears helps with the early detection of potential issues. It is important to look out for any redness, odour or discharge.

Cleaning Techniques - Cleaning your puppy's ears is incredibly easy to do and can be done from the comfort of your home.

  1. Start by gently touching your dog’s ears to make sure they are feeling happy and comfortable.
  2. Examine the ear, checking for redness, discharge or a bad smell.
  3. Gently wipe around the ear with a damp cotton wool ball to remove dirt and wax.
  4. Using a vet-recommended ear cleaning solution, insert the tip slightly into the ear canal and squeeze the bottle to release. Be sure not to go too far into the ear canal as this can cause further problems.
  5. Wipe any excess cleaning solution with a damp cotton wool ball.

Diet & Nutrition - Surprisingly, the link between food and ear health can be more significant than you might think. When it comes to your dog’s well being, every bite matters, including what goes into their food bowl.

The nutrients they consume play a key role in supporting their immune system, controlling inflammation and maintaining the PH balance of their skin and ears. So, next time you fill up their bowl, remember that you’re nourishing more than just their appetite, you’re contributing to their health from the inside out.

4. Treating Common Ear Problems 

When To See A Vet - If you happen to suspect your pup has an ear infection, such as noticing signs like a buildup of wax or a stronger smell than normal, we recommend a quick trip to the vet. Don’t attempt to clean your puppy's ears at home as this could further agitate the infection.

Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs

  • Build up of ear wax
  • Stronger smell than usual
  • Ears that are sensitive to touch
  • Ears that are red and inflamed
  • Discharge that is foul-smelling or an unusual colour
  • Your dog tilting or shaking their head and scratching their ear

Home Remedies vs Professional Treatment

Whilst the idea of home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol may seem tempting, your pup’s safety should remain top priority. We recommend avoiding using home remedy solutions to clean your dog’s ear as this can cause further issues! Attempting to clean your puppy's ear while they are stressed could do more harm than good. Instead, put your trust in the hands of professionals who are trained to expertly and calmly treat your pup. Afterall, your pup’s safety and comfort is our top priority! 

Final Thoughts 

There we have it folks, our top ways to maintain optimal ear health. With gentle cleaning techniques, regular check ups and a little extra TLC, your pup’s health will be supported from the inside out. If you have any further questions or comments, don’t hesitate to email us and ask away…we’re all ears!

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