Why is it important to keep your pets’ ears clean?

As a result of domestication and selective breeding, dogs’ ears vary enormously, not only amongst breeds but also within breeds. While excellent for collecting sound, the long canine ear canal can also accumulate wax and foreign bodies (such as grass seeds) or become diseased. In the latter situation, treatment by your veterinary surgeon will be necessary.

The main uses of an ear cleaner can include one or more of the following:

  • Removal of wax or debris
  • To help maintain the condition of the ear canals in:
    • Dogs predisposed to ear disease (e.g. dogs with pendulous ears)
    • Dogs that swim

Cats’ ears are generally less problematic, but they may also benefit from having their ears kept clean and wax-free.

While not all ears need cleaning, those pets susceptible to ear problems will benefit from regular ear cleaning.

Anatomy of the ear:

The vertical canal of the ear is corrugated along its length. At the base of the vertical canal is a right angled turn where the canal becomes narrower and continues horizontally to the eardrum. Wax and other substances are continually produced along the entire length of the canal to keep the lining supple and healthy. Circulation of air in the canal can help prevent accumulation of excess wax.

The ears of floppy-eared breeds (e.g. Spaniels) and those with lots of hair in the ear canal (e.g. Poodles) are less well ventilated, and are prone to suffering from problems caused by accumulation of wax and debris.

However, any dog may develop ear problems.

Wax and debris must travel upwards against gravity to escape- a difficult process, even when the ear is healthy. In the diseased ear, this natural cleaning process breaks down and, depending on the severity of the condition and the number of episodes, may not return to normal. In such cases, ongoing preventative care of the ears may be essential. Sometimes when treating a diseased ear, ear cleaners may be used alongside medicated drops.

How to use ear cleaners:

An ear with a build up of excessive wax and debris in the upper part of the vertical canal will benefit from the application of an ear cleaner. While a dog is pictured in the cleaning process below, the same procedure applies to cleaning cats’ ears.

1. Holding your pet’s head firmly, gently pull the ear flap up to open the ear canal.

2.  Carefully insert the nozzle into the upper part of the ear canal. Ensure there is a gap between the nozzle and the ear canal before gently squeezing a liberal amount of solution into the ear.

3. Massage the ear canal gently but thoroughly, working from the base.

4. Allow your pet to shake excess solution from the ear, the gently wipe away loosened wax and debris around the top of the ear, with cotton wool or similar. Do not poke anything down the ear canal- particularly cotton buds- as this can cause damage.

5. Inspect the ear, and repeat if necessary.

6. Clean the other ear.

Tips on ear cleaning:

  • Clean your pets’ ears regularly, once or twice a week or as recommended by your veterinary surgeon. Your pets will quickly get used to it, and the process will get easier.
  •  Introducing cold liquid into pets’ ears may cause the pet to react, making cleaning more difficult. Always warm the solution to around body temperature before use by holding the bottle in your hand or placing it in a pocket for a few minutes.
  • Use the ear cleaner in a tiled room or outdoors, so your pet can safely shake its ears to remove any excess solution.

Check out the videos at www.dechra.co.uk/how-to-guides for further advice on effective ear cleaning.

Before using any cleaners, please check the precautions on the bottle.

Treating your pet’s ear infection:

Your veterinary surgeon has prescribed Canaural ear drops to help clear up an infection in your pet’s ear(s). Prior to administration of Canaural, it is best practice to thoroughly clean the ears with an ear cleaner such as CleanAural® Ear Cleaner. This should leave the ears clean and dry.

Treatment is usually given twice a day- morning and evening. Please follow directions from your veterinary surgeon on how often to apply cleaners and ear drops.

Canaural contains antibiotics. For best results, please follow your veterinary surgeon’s advice and complete the course of treatment.

If your cat or dog is prone to excessive wax production, CleanAural® Ear Cleaners are available from your veterinary practice without prescription. This special formulation rapidly dissolves wax and accumulated debris and is gentle enough for long-term, routine use at home.

Treating your pet’s ear infection:

1. Shake the Canaural bottle before use.

2. Gently restrain your pet to prevent it from shaking its head. If you are treating a dog with floppy ears, fold back the flap over the head. Hold the ear firmly but gently between finger and thumb.

3. Place the nozzle of the dropper bottle in the upper part of the affected ear canal and squeeze carefully to instill the prescribed dose as advised by your veterinary surgeon. If you use the same applicator in another ear, ensure that the applicator is cleaned thoroughly, using cotton wool or a tissue, to avoid contamination of the other ear.

4. Once the Canaural is in the ear, hold the ear flap between the thumb and forefinger and very gently massage the base of the ear canal to distribute the medication. You may hear a squelching noise and, if you are gentle, your pet may lean towards you.

5. Wipe away any wax and debris brought to the top of the canal. Never use cotton buds. Once you let go of your pet, it will shake its head and may well dislodge some of the medication. Despite this, enough Canaural will stay in the ear to treat the infection.