A dog’s ears are warm and moist, making them potential breeding grounds for parasites, bacteria and yeast. The canine ear canal is not relatively short and linear like a human’s, but instead forms a long, distinct “L” shape. The ear canal’s curvature makes it difficult for debris that gets in to work its way back out, while providing a nice environment for bacteria and yeast. Routinely cleaning your dog’s ears will help keep them healthy.
One of the most important reasons to clean your dog’s ears is to prevent ear infections. These can be painful and even cause deafness if left untreated. Routine ear cleaning helps prevent the accumulation of yeast (a common cause of canine ear infections). Many ear cleaners contain witch hazel, a drying ingredient. Do not clean your buddy’s ears if he exhibits any signs of an ear infection. These include foul odor, discharge, redness, swelling, hair loss or crusty skin. Cleaning his ears during an active ear infection could further inflame the delicate ear canal and eardrum. Seek veterinary care if you believe your dog has an ear infection.
Dogs can experience temporary partial to full deafness as a result of wax buildup in their ear canals. Routine ear cleaning will prevent excess earwax accumulation, and is extremely important for breeds with narrow ear canals, such as poodles. Your vet will likely send you home with a prescription ear cleaner and specific ear cleaning instructions if he diagnoses temporary deafness due to earwax buildup. However, you can prevent this stressful situation in the first place by routinely cleaning your dog’s ears.