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Puppy ears come in all shapes and dimensions: from delightfully small and pointy to adorably oversized. They’re an important part of your pup’s anatomy, and with proper care from human friends, your dog will be able to enjoy healthy ears for life.
Puppy ear care isn’t daunting when you have the right tools and instructions. In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know. Let’s get started!
Puppy Ear Care: The Step-by-Step Guide
Fortunately, the process of maintaining good puppy ear care is relatively straightforward. You’ll only need a few tools – outlined in the shopping list below – alongside a little time and a dash of patience.
Ear Care Schedule
The schedule for cleaning your puppy’s ears will largely depend on their breed. Dogs with larger ears will usually require more frequent cleaning than small-eared breeds. Your vet will be able to advise you about your puppy’s specific requirements, and it’s something you can discuss during your first appointment. A good rule of thumb is to check them thoroughly at least once a week, and if a good clean seems to be in order, go ahead!
Start by getting comfortable on the floor and bringing your puppy into your lap. By holding them close, you’ll give them a sense of safety and comfort, and it will help to prevent them squirming away from your reach!
Once your pup is settled, perform a quick visual check of their ears. You may need to lightly groom the area if the ears have an excess of fur that might make cleaning difficult. If any fur is matted, gently cut it away, as this can increase the likelihood of your puppy contracting an ear infection.
Next, take a cotton wool pad or ball, give your bottle of vet-approved cleaning solution a soft shake to mix the contents, then dampen the cotton wool with the solution. Don’t overdo it with the solution, as an excess of cleaning fluid may get stuck further down the ear canal, causing discomfort and possible infection.
Carefully fold back your puppy’s ear, then wipe the outer area, making sure to clean away any debris or wax. Repeat on the other side. Do not push the cotton pad or ball into the ear canal, or use a cotton swab – such as a Q-tips – to clean the inner ear. This can push wax and debris further down the canal, making an inner ear infection more likely.
Your vet will be able to recommend a specific solution to clean and maintain the inner part of the ear. This may be different to the cleaner you use on the outer ear. Tilt your puppy’s head slightly downward to improve access to the area, then apply a liberal amount to the ear canal. There shouldn’t be an excess that causes the fluid to overflow the entrance to the inner ear.
Next, gently massage the base of the ear, which helps the cleaning solution to do its job and encourage stubborn wax or debris to dislodge. Your puppy will then instinctively want to shake their head. This is perfectly fine!
One handy tip here is to put a towel down; this just makes the clean-up a little easier. The solution will be shaken out, along with any material from the ear canal.
Once your puppy has finished, inspect the ears again and give the outer part of each ear another wipe with the first cleaning solution you used. You may wish to give your puppy a small treat at this stage, to reward their calm and patient behaviour.
Et voilà! Your puppy can go about their usual adventures with clean and healthy ears!
Puppy Ear Care Shopping List
As it’s a straightforward process, puppy ear care only requires a handful of supplies:
- Cotton wool pads or balls
- Cleaning solution for outer ear
- Cleaning solution for inner ear (if different, check with your vet)
- A towel to protect the floor – especially when your puppy shakes their ears!
- A small treat for being a brave pup!
Something to definitely omit from your list is cotton swabs. Steer clear!
Puppy Ear Care: Signs You Should Visit the Vet
There are a few clear signs that your dog may be experiencing discomfort or infection in the ear area, including the following:
- Excessive resistance to having their ears cleaned
- Swelling, redness, or heat, in or around the ear
- A foul odour emanating from any part of the ear
- Symptoms of fever, including lethargy, loss of appetite, or vomiting
If you suspect there’s a problem with your puppy’s ears, always err on the side of caution and visit your vet. There’s no harm in being cautious!
Puppy Ear Care: Fast Tips
As you can see, the ear cleaning process is pretty simple. Of course, if you have a puppy with generously sized ears, it’ll take a little longer than our furry friends with perky little ears!
To wrap up this guide, here are our top tips to lock down this essential part of your puppy care routine:
- Check with your vet to find out how often your puppy’s ears need to be cleaned, and which solutions are best for the breed.
- Inspect your pup’s ears at least once a week to check if they need a clean.
- A little grooming may be required if your puppy’s ears are particularly furry!
- Use a cotton wool ball or pad to clean the outer part of the ear – never a swab!
- Don’t forget to massage the base of each ear once you’ve applied the inner ear solution; this helps to make it work more effectively.
- Your dog will instinctively want to shake out their ears after you’ve cleaned them – this is fine!
- But if your puppy resists ear cleaning by shaking their head at the start, this might indicate infection.
- Other signs to watch out for include redness, swelling, foul odour, or fever symptoms. It’s time to visit the vet!
- If you’re worried about your technique or still unsure, contact your vet for advice
While you’re here, why not check out our essential guide to puppy care for beginners?