In my earlier post, I talked about how ear mite infestations are one of the most common ear problems affecting household pets in Singapore. However, no ear mite infestation can be cleared quickly without proper cleaning. This is because if there’s too much ear wax, it might interfere with the effectiveness of the medications. Although there are exceptions where some products do not need prior cleaning, or if there’s nothing wrong with your pets’ ears, regular ear cleaning is still an important part of your pets’ grooming routine to maintain proper ear health.
Ear anatomy of cats and dogs
However, I admit it’s terrifying for some, especially those unaware of the anatomy of their pets’ ears. The difference between human ears to cats and dogs is that,
unlike human ears, dogs and cats have ‘L’ shaped ear canals, which prevents us from reaching the ear drums if we just clean the observable part of the ear canal with cotton buds. A word of caution is that although it’s unlikely to damage the ear drums with cotton buds, it’s possible to push debris further down the ear canal with improper cleaning techniques.
As you can see, if the ears are dirty, the debris may lodge itself in the horizontal portion of the ear canal, which we can’t reach. Therefore to be able to clean the whole length of the ear canal and an effective method would be to flush the ear with surfactants to loosen the debris and have them shake it out.
*Disclaimer* It is not recommended to flush ears that are bleeding or badly inflamed. If your pets’ ears are oozing with pus, constantly tilting their head, or experiencing pain in their ears, seek medical attention immediately.*
First, liberally fill the ear canal with a liquid based (as opposed to oil-based) ear-cleaning solution and massage the base of the ear. Feel for cartilage, and that would be their ear canal. Secondly, if you have an eye dropper, suck out the solution and repeat 2-4 times in each ear, depending on how dirty the ears are. If you don’t have an eye dropper with you, then just let them shake the dirt out. What flushing does is that it removes the bulk of the debris so that we will not be pushing the dirt further down into the ear canal and onto the eardrums when we use cotton buds later on.
Why aren’t cotton buds called Q-tips here? I love the sound of it. Q-tips.
Next, moisten a cotton bud with ear solution and, with an upward motion, clean all sides of the observable ear canal. Repeat until the ear is clear of dirt or almost there. Usually, if the ear is really dirty, it’s almost impossible to thoroughly clean the ears, keeping in mind that there are a lot of areas we can’t reach. If that’s the case, just clean as much as you can, around 4-5 times and continue tomorrow. The abrasion and ear shaking during ear cleaning causes further irritation and inflammation and will do more harm than good.
Finally, if your dog has floppy ears like Retrievers, Beagles, or Spaniels, or if your dog has lots of hair inside the ear, like Poodles, Schnauzers, or Shih Tzus, remember to apply ear powder afterward to keep them dry.