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How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

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    If your dog has ever had dirty ears or shaking their head, you may have wondered how to clean your dog’s ears. Good news is that you can do this at home without going to the vet! Keep reading to learn how to clean a dog’s ears and why you should clean them.

    Anatomy of the Ear

    Dog and human ears vary greatly in their anatomy. Dog ears are “L” shaped with both a horizontal and vertical canal. Ear wax in the ear canal is created by skin that lines the ear canal that creates cerumin from special glands. The canals come to an end with the tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum. The ear flap (or pinna) aids in the concentration of sound waves in the ear canals and onto the eardrum. 

    Why You Should Clean Your Dog’s Ears

    Regular ear cleaning can prevent certain conditions such as ear infections but not all dogs need it. While some dogs can have naturally clean ears and do not need regular cleaning, some dogs do need regular cleaning to prevent ear infections and other ear-related conditions that are a result of dirt buildup. Although ear infections can develop in any breed, they are more frequent in dog breeds with long-hanging ears, such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. Dogs with long-hanging ears should have their ears checked and cleaned regularly.

    How to Know It’s Time to Clean a Dog’s Ears

    It’s important to only clean your dog’s ears when it’s time to be cleaned. If you over-clean your dog’s ears, it could result in an infection and irritation. If a dog is more predisposed to ear infections, then they may need their ears cleaned more often. Dogs who are in the water a lot also would need to be cleaned more often. Signs that your dog is ready for an ear cleaning include:

    • Shaking their head a lot 
    • Ears are red and inflamed
    • Smells yeasty
    • Ear pain

    Your veterinarian can advise you on how regularly you should clean your dog’s ears. If your dog’s ears are red, inflamed, or painful, see your veterinarian before cleaning them. Your dog might have an ear infection or a burst eardrum.

    What Supplies Can You Use?

    Luckily, you can clean your dog’s ears with just a few simple supplies. Essentially, you will just need either a cotton ball or gauze, an ear-cleaning solution, and a towel. It’s advised not to use cotton swabs or anything with a pointed tip as these can force dirt further into the ear canal which can lead to an ear infection or cause trauma or injury to the ear.

    When it comes to ear cleaning solutions, you should opt for a veterinarian-approved solution instead of making one at home as they can contain harmful ingredients. If you aren’t sure which one to use, you can consult with your veterinarian on what they suggest. 

    How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

    1. Get set up in the bathroom with your supplies as it can get messy when your dog shakes their head with the solution in it. 
    2. Restrain your dog if needed in a way you feel comfortable. This might be wrapping them in a towel for smaller dogs or just simply keeping them on a leash.
    3. Hold up the ear flap so it’s pointed vertical to the ceiling.
    4. Fill up the ear canal with the ear cleaning solution while being careful to not put the tip of the bottle into the ear.
    5. Hold the ear flap up and massage the base for about 30 seconds to move the cleaning solution around the ear canal.
    6. Use your cotton swab or gauze to clean the ear canal and wipe away any dirt or debri.
    7. Let your dog shake their head to move the solution around and naturally loosen any remaining debris.
    8. Wipe away any loosened debris but only as far as your finger can reach so you don’t damage the eardrum or ear canal.
    9. Repeat with the other ear.
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    Ear Infections in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnoses and Treatment

    female vet looking into a corgi's ear
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      What Are Ear Infections In Dogs?

      graphic of an ear infection in dogs

      Ear infections are fairly common in dogs. There are three types of ear infections that may affect dogs; otitis externa, media, and interna. Otitis externa is the most common and involves the external portion of the ear canal. Inflammation affects the layer of cells that line the external portion of the ear canal. While otitis media and interna refer to infections affecting the middle and inner portions of the ear canal. Both otitis media and interna typically result from an infection of the external ear spreading. These two types of infections can be very serious and may even result in deafness, facial paralysis, and vestibular signs. Preventing infections and seeking early treatment will decrease the likelihood of this. Read below to learn more about dog ear infection treatment. 

      What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?

      Ear infections in dogs may be caused by a variety of reasons. In comparison to humans, the canine ear canal is more vertical, forming an L-shape which holds in fluid. The retention of fluid makes dogs more prone to ear infections. Typically, ear infections in dogs are caused by bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both. Wax buildup, foreign bodies, excessive cleaning, and injury to the dog’s ear canal increase the likelihood of an ear infection occurring. 

      Who's At Risk of Developing Ear Infections?

      Ear infections are often observed in dog breeds with floppy ears in contrast to those with pointed ears. These breeds include Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Shar Pei, Beagle, and Golden Retriever. There are also a number of factors that may predispose a dog to ear infections including: 


      • Moisture: which is an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to grow 
      • Allergies: the cause of ear disease in approximately 50 percent of dogs with allergic skin disease and 80 percent of dogs with food sensitivities 
      • Thyroid diseases and other endocrine disorders 
      • Autoimmune disorders 

      What Are The Symptoms Of Ear Infections in Dogs?

      Most dogs will show symptoms of discomfort when an ear infection is present. Signs that point at an ear infection in dogs include: 

      • Wax build up
      • Head shaking 
      • Scratching and itchiness 
      • Odorous discharge 
      • Redness and swelling of the ear canal 
      • Scabbing in the ears 

      How Can Ear Infections in Dogs Be Prevented?

      hand using a cotton swab to clean a dog's ear

      If your dog is prone to recurring ear infections, prevention is key. Since excess moisture in the ear often leads to ear infections, always thoroughly dry your dog’s ears following swimming or bathing. Identifying and managing any underlying causes of ear infections will help to prevent new infections. Oftentimes, addressing the allergies can be of tremendous help. 

      Appropriately cleaning your dog’s ears at home can also prevent future issues. The ideal method of ear cleaning involves filling the ear canal with the ear cleaning solution and massaging the ear from the outside. Following this, wipe out the ear canal with absorbent gauze. Professionals advise against the use of paper towel or cotton as fibers may be left behind causing further irritation. Cotton swabs can be effective in cleaning a dog’s external ear flaps. However, swabs should be avoided when cleaning the ear canal as debris can be pushed even further into the canal. 

      You can also utiize products that help with cleaning and drying the ears out.

      How Are Ear Infections Diagnosed?

      female vet looking into a corgi's ear

      Seeking a diagnosis and treatment from a veterinarian at the first sign of an ear infection is necessary to prevent the spread of infection to the middle and ear. A physical examination will be necessary to diagnose the infection. This exam may include: 

      • Look for signs of redness, swelling, and discharge 
      • Evaluate the ear canal and eardrum with an otoscope 
      • Assess level of pain 
      • Culture of samples from the ear 
      • In chronic cases, biopsies or x-rays may be performed 

      In addition to the physical examination, your veterinarian will gather the necessary information to help make a diagnosis, including: 

      • Duration of symptoms 
      • Types of symptoms (swelling, discharge, odor, etc.)
      • Medical history including existing allergies and ear infections 
      • Medication the dog is currently receiving 
      • Type of food the dog is fed 
      • Ear cleaning products used on the dog’s ears 
      • Recent activities including baths, grooming, swimming, etc. 

      What Is The Treatment For Ear Infections in Dogs?

      If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, seek veterinary treatment early in order to prevent serious issues. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe an ear medicine for dogs including an ear cleanser and topical medication to be used at home. In more severe cases, oral antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed. Even once improvement is shown, be sure to follow the full course of treatment to ensure the infection is fully cleared. Typical ear infections resolve 1-2 weeks following the proper treatment. 

      Severe infections or those caused by underlying conditions can often take months to resolve. Your primary veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary dermatologist if chronic ear problems occur in your dog. A surgery called a Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA may even be recommended. This procedure removes the ear canal, which in turn removes the diseased tissue and prevents recurring infection.

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      Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Market Size To Reach $877.3 Million By 2028: Grand View Research, Inc.

      SAN FRANCISCO, June 30, 2021 — The global companion animal ear infection treatment market size is expected to reach USD 877.3 million by 2028, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. The market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 6.56% from 2021 to 2028. The increasing prevalence of ear infections in companion animals is one of the factors responsible for the market growth. An ear infection is a second-most common condition in canines. Otitis Externa is a common disorder and one of the top reasons for increased vet visits.

      Key Insights & Findings:

      • The anti-bacterial product segment accounted for the largest revenue share in 2020 and will retain the leading position throughout the forecast period
      • This growth can be credited to the rising incidence of ear diseases in pets associated with the bacterial infection
      • The topical segment is anticipated to have significant growth owing to the availability of a wide range of products and high demand for topical treatments
      • The cats animal type segment is estimated to register the fastest CAGR from 2021 to 2028 owing to increased concerns regarding the health and hygiene of cats
      • The otitis externa disease segment is projected to register considerable growth as it is one of the most common and recurrent problems

      Read 150 page market research report, “Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Disease Type (Otitis Externa, Otitis Media), By Product, By Mode of Administration, By Animal Type, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028“, By Grand View Research.

      The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for rapid business and economic changes. Moreover, popular trends, such as “bring your pet to work”, are also supporting the market growth. Companies operating in this market are widely accepting different approaches to treat otitis in companion animals. For instance, in April 2020, Virbac introduced Easotic, a prescription medicine specified for the topical treatment of otitis externa in canines.

      The rising number of pet owners and awareness about animal health and hygiene will boost the market growth. For instance, as stated by the American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey 2019-2020, 63.4 million U.S. households own dogs. Thus, increasing pet ownership along with growing research & development activities in animal health accelerates the market growth. For example, Dechra Pharmaceuticals spent USD 40.31 million (£28.4 million) on R&D in 2020, while USD 35.62 million (£28.4 million) in 2019. Moreover, the humanization of pets further contributes to market growth.

      Grand View Research has segmented the global companion animal ear infection treatment market on the basis of product, disease type, mode of administration, animal type, and region:

      • Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Product Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 – 2028)
        • Anti-bacterial
          • Aminoglycosides
          • Fluoroquinolones
          • Others
        • Anti-fungal
        • Corticosteroids
        • Others
      • Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Disease Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 – 2028)
        • Otitis Externa
        • Otitis Media
        • Otitis Interna
      • Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Mode of Administration Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 – 2028)
        • Topical
        • Oral
        • Otic
      • Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Animal Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 – 2028)
        • Dogs
        • Cats
        • Others
      • Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 – 2028)
        • North America
          • U.S.
          • Canada
        • Europe
          • U.K.
          • Germany
          • France
          • Italy
          • Spain
        • Asia Pacific
          • China
          • India
          • Japan
        • Latin America
          • Brazil
          • Mexico
          • Argentina
        • Middle East and Africa
          • South Africa
          • Saudi Arabia
      • List of Key Players of Companion Animal Ear Infection Treatment Market
        • Zoetis
        • Elanco
        • Dechra Pharmaceuticals
        • Merck & Co., Inc.
        • Vetoquinol
        • Penn Veterinary Supply, Inc.
        • Virbac S.A.
        • Ceva Sant√© Animale
        • Vedco, Inc.

      Check out more studies on Companion Animal Health & Diagnostics, by Grand View Research:

      • Companion Animal Health Market – Global companion animal health market size was valued at USD 18.67 billionin 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% from 2021 to 2028.
      • Companion Animal Postoperative Pain Management Therapeutics Market – Global companion animal postoperative pain management therapeutics market size was estimated at USD 228.90 million in 2018 and is expected to witness a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period.
      • Companion Animal Diagnostics Market – Global companion animal diagnostics market size was valued at USD 2.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4% from 2019 to 2026.

      Browse through Grand View Research’s coverage of the  Global Animal Health Industry.

      Gain access to Grand View Compass, our BI enabled intuitive market research database of 10,000+ reports

      About Grand View Research

      Grand View Research, U.S.-based market research and consulting company, provides syndicated as well as customized research reports and consulting services. Registered in California and headquartered in San Francisco, the company comprises over 425 analysts and consultants, adding more than 1200 market research reports to its vast database each year. These reports offer in-depth analysis on 46 industries across 25 major countries worldwide. With the help of an interactive market intelligence platform, Grand View Research helps Fortune 500 companies and renowned academic institutes understand the global and regional business environment and gauge the opportunities that lie ahead.

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      Grand View Research, Inc.
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      SOURCE Grand View Research, Inc.