Ear problems for dogs are more common than we'd like. They can cause the dog to become irritable and agitated because of the pain while we can be clueless as to what is causing the problem. The problem has become so bad that it's now the second most common reason most people take their dogs to the vets. Luckily, even though the problem is so common, there are a few things you can do to spot signs of ear trouble in your dog and even take steps to prevent future ear problems.
What causes ear problems?
The most common cause of most ear problems in dogs is foreign debris or water becoming lodged in the dog's ear. When swimming or running through tall grass, small seeds or particles can become lodged in the deeper parts of the dog's ear canal. Due to the L shape of most dog's ear canals, once something is lodged in there, it can become tricky to remove it without sedating the dog.
Small seeds and awns can also cling to the fine hairs in the opening of your dog's ear and can lead to irritation and eventually infection if not removed. These hairs are there to help maintain the level of moisture needed in the ear and therefore should not be plucked unless it is medically required. Some professional pet groomers pluck these hair in certain heavily groomed dogs like Poodles or Schnauzers and this can lead to problems as the ear canal can become dry and smaller particles have less resistance making it to the deeper, harder to reach parts.
Wet ear canals after swimming or bathing can also lead to problems. Water can trickle down into deeper parts of the ear canal and can become lodged causing problems.
What can I do to help my dog?
For the most part, making sure that foreign debris or water does not become lodged in your dog's ears is the best that any pet owner can do. Routine cleaning is not required to any specific degree. Having a quick look in your dog's ears after they run through tall grass or perhaps go swimming is the best idea, making sure to dry up any excess water or debris or any big particles clinging to the hairs.
Don't forget that a small bit of light brown ear wax is normal and healthy for your dog's ear. When cleaning your dog's ears be sure to not leave the ear too dry of devoid of wax. The canal should be left a tiny bit moist as this is normal and healthy. Gently wiping the inner ear with dampened but not soaking cloth is a good idea. The aim being to remove excess moisture and large bit of debris and dust that might still be hanging about.