Ear Infections in Dogs (Ear Cleaning Tips)

Canine ear infections represent one of the most frustrating issues pet owners face in supporting the health of their companions. An understanding of the anatomy of the ear canal is important in providing efficient care.

Canine ear infections represent one of the most frustrating issues pet owners face in supporting the health of their companions. An understanding of the anatomy of the ear canal is important in providing efficient care.

The external ear canal ends at the tympanic membrane, aka ear drum. Visualize this canal as the surface of the skin rolled inside out. The surface of the canal acts as the first layer of immune defense against infection. When the skin is irritated or inflamed, redness, pain, and swelling consistent with ear infection occurs.

The environment of the ear canal represents a perfect incubator for infection. It is a dark, warm, moist environment that get very poor air circulation, especially in long-eared breeds. Compounding the problem is the existence of a normal amount of potentially disease-causing organisms in the ear at all times. With excessive moisture (think constant swimming), excessive debris, or underlying allergic or metabolic issues, these ever-present organisms may overgrow and cause a classic infection.

Routine maintenance of the ear canal should address the anatomy and environment of the ear canal to minimize the incidence of infections. Routine cleaning should occur every 1-2 weeks depending on the breed, lifestyle, and environment your pet frequents.

A drying agent should be incorporated in ear cleaning products to minimize the amount of moisture in the canal. 

Ingredients such as dioctyl sodium succinate (DSS) will act to break up excessive debris and wax and facilitate their removal when the dog shakes his head. This will also support adequate air flow in the canal. Avoid using cotton-tipped applicators as they tend to push debris deeper into the canal, putting pressure on the ear drum.

Acidifying agents create a less hospitable environment in the ear canal for organisms, especially yeast, to grow. Yeast favor less acidic conditions.

Tomlyn's Veterinarian Formulated Ear Cleaner meets the requirements for supporting a healthy ear canal by including a drying agent, three acids to create an inhospitable environment for organisms, and DSS to remove debris while leaving the ear clean-smelling. 

Excessive redness, pain, or head tilting evidenced in your canine companion justifies a visit to your veterinarian who can prescribe appropriate therapy to treat ear infections.