On any given day in my field I see animals come in with ear problems. When an infection is present the animal is usually shaking his/her head, scratching or rubbing their ears and nine times out of ten there is a pungent odor. Sometimes an odor that will make you want to run from the room!! Of course some of our pets don't give any indication there is a problem and it is found during an annual wellness check.
There are many different reasons as to why ear infections occur, but for this post the focus will be on how to effectively clean ears. I have found that making a habit of cleaning out your animals ears once every 10 -14 days after the acute problem has been treated is very important. It really does help to prevent further issues or at least catch any developing problems.There are different techniques when it comes to cleaning ears and certainly one way is not the only way.
The biggest concern that my clients voice to me is , " I'm nervous of going too deep and rupturing the ear drum". By the end of the appointment I am usually pretty successful at convincing them that that won't be a problem. By giving them a basic lesson in canine /feline ear anatomy they understand that human ears, which is what they are comparing it to, are very different than their pets ears.
So after we have got through that initial reassurance, I reach for the 3 things needed for the procedure- gauze, ear cleaning solution and medicated ear ointment.
Step 1 - fill up the entire ear canal with the cleaner so the fluid actually starts to dribble out, gently massage the ear canal,starting from the base and working upwards .This helps to loosen up all the debris that is deep in the ear canal. Step 2 - using soft gauze (please no paper towels,tissue paper,q tips, face cloth etc),gently wipe out the ears.Yes,you can go down into the ear canal! Repeat if needed.Try and do it til you get minimal debris back on the gauze. Step 3 - wait 30 mins between cleaning and applying the topical medication that I typically dispense. Place the tip of the medicine as far down into the ear canal give it a gentle squeeze.The ointment tends to come out quickly so a gentle squeeze is adequate. I have owners clean daily and medicate twice daily for approx. 7 days.I suggest they schedule a follow up apt. at the end of the treatment.
Easy as pie right? Well that unfortunately has a lot to do with the cooperation of the patient,how many helping hands are around and your patience level. Happy ear cleaning!