Cleaning and Medicating your Dog’s Ears At Home

Many dogs develop recurrent ear infections (otitis externa). Scruffy1 300x297 Infections are often a combination of bacteria and yeast which create a foul odor, thick discharge, and painful irritated ear canal. Cleaning and medicating the ears at home, when done properly, can help to prevent recurrence of these infections. There are other medical conditions which can look similar to an ear infection, such as a foreign body in the ear, vestibular disease, or ear pinnal hematoma. After a veterinarian has determined that an ear infection is present, the best method for cleaning and medicating is as follows:

First use the Ear Cleaner (examples are Oticlens, Oticalm, EpiOtic, etc).  This will remove wax and debris within the ear, enabling the medication to reach the surface of the ear. It is important to remove all cleaner from the ear – it is not meant to be left inside the ear forming a pool of liquid and debris which will breed more infection.

Apply a small amount of prescribed cleaner (1/4 teaspoon, or about 8-10 drops, approximately) into the opening of the ear.

With your hand, gently massage/squeeze the area below the opening of the ear where you can feel the cartilage of the ear canal. This will work the cleaner into the grooves of the ear and deep into the ear canal. If you are doing this correctly, you will be able to hear a liquid squishing/sloshing sound.

Next, place a dry cotton ball into the ear opening. Repeat the gentle massaging/squeezing of the ear canal. Remove the cotton ball and repeat the process with a new, dry cotton ball until your cotton ball comes out dry and clean. Be gentle, as the cotton can be abrasive if used to aggressively.

Use the Ear Medication: (examples are Mometamax, Otomax, Baytril Otic, etc).

The medication contains components to treat inflammation, bacterial infections, or yeast infections, depending on what is necessary. The medication cannot work properly if wax and debris block it from reaching the surface of the ear. This is why the ear must be cleaned prior to medicating.

Apply a very small amount (1/8 of a teaspoon or 3-4 drops, approximately) into the opening of the ear. With your hand, gently massage/squeeze the area below the opening of the ear in order to work the medication into the crevices of the ear and deep into the ear canal.

Complete regimen once weekly as preventative or daily when there is an active infection, based on the recommendation of your veterinarian.

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Dr Peter Nurre

Peter Nurre, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include internal medicine and cardiology.

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