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When you own a pet, you understand how important it is to take care of its grooming and hygiene needs. In addition to grooming your dog’s coat, you must pay attention to other factors. These include brushing your teeth, trimming your nails, and getting your eyes and ears checked regularly.
When cleaning your dog’s ears, you should do it once or twice a month. However, breeds with long, droopy ears like Dachshunds, Beagles and Cocker Spaniels will need to be cleaned more frequently, perhaps every two weeks.
If your breed swims frequently, cleaning its ears weekly will help maintain better hygiene.
Now, when you clean your dog’s ears, how does he react? Is he okay, or is he showing signs of restlessness and aggression? There are many reasons why your dog may act weird or go crazy after having their ears cleaned. Read on to learn more:
dog ear anatomy
A dog’s ears are made up of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The external ear includes the ear canal and auricle. The auricle, or ear flap, is the cartilage part of the ear.
The pinna is still covered with hair, skin, and fur. The pinna plays an important role in capturing sound waves and routing them through the dog’s ear canal. The sound waves then pass through the eardrum. The pinna can move completely independently.
Additionally, the shape and size of the pinna varies among breeds. The ear canal is a long, L-shaped tube that protects the eardrum. A dog’s ear canal is deeper than a human’s. Most dogs can hear four times as well as humans.
The middle ear has the eardrum, and next to it is an air-filled chamber that contains three small bones – the anvil, the stapes, and the hammer. The Eustachian tube and oval window (connective tissue membrane) are also located in the middle ear.
The dog’s inner ear appears complex and includes the vestibular system and cochlea. While the cochlea helps with hearing, the vestibular system plays an important role in balance.
Why dogs go “crazy” after cleaning their ears
Do you find that your dog gets crazy, reacts weirdly, or acts aggressively when your ears are cleaned?
You may sense that your dog is being aggressive or disobedient. But that’s not always the reason. It could be something else. Maybe your dog is feeling some kind of discomfort and that’s why he’s reacting strangely. Let’s take a look at them:
1. Your dog is in pain
If your dog has an ear infection, cleaning his ears at this time may cause pain and inflammation. Therefore, it is natural that his reaction is a little strange. When your dog has ear pain, you may notice that he or she is constantly scratching or pawing at the ear.
Your dog may shake his head vigorously to relieve pain and discomfort. His ears may even become inflamed or red and emit a bad odor. So, when you see these symptoms in your dog, it means his ears are infected. It will help if you don’t clean his ears in this situation.
2. This puts him under a lot of pressure
when Clean your dog’s ears, you may need to pull it slightly and squeeze the ear cleaning solution inside. Your dog may find all of this stressful. Therefore, after cleaning his ears, he often shakes his head vigorously, barks, whines, or performs any strange behavior.
3. He may have had negative experiences in the past
Dogs have great memories. They can remember significant events – both good and bad – over a considerable period of time.
The last time you took him to the groomer for a cleaning, he didn’t have a good experience there. Therefore, every time you clean your ears, there is a chance that something wrong or unpleasant will happen.
Your dog will show it through his behavior and reluctance to clean his ears.
4. He may relate it to a problem
Do you usually only clean your dog’s ears when you feel there’s something wrong? In this case, your dog may associate ear cleaning with pain and discomfort. So, every time you continue to clean his ears with the cleaner, he’ll realize something might be wrong. This can cause your dog to act crazy during and after ear cleaning.
Common reactions dogs show after cleaning their ears
So, what does your dog do when you clean his ears? Is he calm and collected? Or is he acting restless? Most dogs will show some common reactions after having their ears cleaned:
- The most common reaction in dogs during and after ear cleaning is vigorous shaking of the head. In this way, they remove fluid, debris, and earwax that accumulate in the ears.
- If your dog has no problems when his ears are cleaned, he will feel relaxed and calm even after cleaning. When your dog is relaxed, he will show it through his gestures. His eyes will take on a soft expression, his ears will appear floppy, and your dog’s mouth will open slightly.
- If your dog’s ears are inflamed or infected, he will walk away when you try to clean his ears. If you force this, your dog will be constantly itching and pawing at his ears, while also shaking excessively.
Tips for calming your dog after cleaning his ears
If you notice your dog is stressed or anxious after cleaning his ears, it’s your responsibility to calm your dog down and make him feel better. Here are some things you need to do:
- After placing the ear drops into your dog’s ears, continue to massage them gently for a while to give your dog some much-needed comfort. Make sure you are not applying force that could cause discomfort to your dog.
- If your dog becomes agitated or upset during ear cleaning, don’t yell at him. Instead, stay calm and find ways to comfort him. It can be a combination of cuddles and rewards, such as his favorite toy or a treat. This can help your dog overcome his discomfort and make him feel better.
- You can even play soothing music that your dog enjoys to help him overcome the discomfort he experiences from cleaning his ears.
Best practices for regular maintenance and ear cleaning
It’s always important to take good care of your dog’s ears. This way, you can prevent ear infections.
As mentioned before, if your dog’s ears are short and erect, cleaning them once a month is fine. However, if your dog’s ears are long and floppy, or if your dog goes into the water a lot, the ears will need to be cleaned frequently – at least once a week. Here are specific tips to help you:
1. Choose the right time
If you have a hyperactive dog, cleaning his ears during the day when he’s full of energy can be difficult.
Therefore, it is safer to choose a time when he is less active; a time around bedtime is more suitable. In fact, during this time, he will be more relaxed after a tiring day and cleaning his ears will be easier for you.
2. Choose the right posture
When cleaning your dog’s ears, be sure to sit on the ground. This will help you get better access to your dog. When you have a small dog, have your dog sit with his back between his legs. This will make the cleaning process more manageable.
With large breeds, getting him to sit in that position will be challenging. The best way is to have him sit with his back against the corner of the room. One side of him will be against the wall. You need to go to the other side and clean his ears.
3. Follow correct procedures
The ideal way to clean your dog’s ears is to use a cotton ball dipped in a veterinarian-approved solution. You can hold it with one hand and gently squeeze some ear fluid into your dog’s ear. Make sure to inject enough solution to fill the ear canal. Once the solution is in your dog’s ear, massage it gently.
This will help break up the debris and ensure proper cleaning. Avoid using cotton swabs or applicators. It can cause injury to your dog’s ears and damage his eardrums.
When you clean your dog’s ears during the cleaning process, don’t stop him if he wiggles his ears. It will help bring debris closer to the surface. Once you see the same things, wipe them clean.
If you notice that your dog is in pain while cleaning his ears, stop doing so and talk to your veterinarian immediately. Do not use force; this may make things worse.
Avoid looking for homemade solutions or any random solutions you come across online. It may provide your dog with short-term relief. But in the long run, it can cause irritation and ear damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
answer: If your dog experiences ear pain and refuses to have his ears cleaned, you should stop immediately. Contact your veterinarian, who may be able to recommend pain control medications and alternative ear cleaning techniques.
answer: You can minimize your dog’s ear problems by performing routine checkups. Also, make sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly (as needed).
Whenever your dog’s ears get wet after bathing or swimming, be sure to dry them. You can even put cotton balls in his ears before he takes a bath or swims to prevent water from getting inside. Moisture that accumulates in your dog’s ears makes him susceptible to chronic ear infections.
answer: Poodles are more susceptible to ear infections because they have flapped ears that can hold more moisture. Another cause is increased ear hair growth, which blocks airflow from entering the ear canal. Additionally, breeds with long, droopy ears are also more likely to develop ear infections.
All in all, cleaning ears is an integral part of grooming your dog. Make sure to follow the correct steps as one mistake on your part could damage your dog’s ears. Also, you should train your dog to receive ear cleaning starting from puppyhood. It would be better if he was trained to follow orders.
Let him get used to you touching his ears, ear flaps, head, etc. Do all this slowly and gradually. Also, associate it with positive stimulation. Whenever your dog allows you to touch his ears, reward him with treats and praise. This way, he won’t find cleaning his ears stressful or painful.
Dr. Lillian is a DVM with a passion for raising awareness about dogs. She shares her expertise through her blog at canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology and urgent care. Dr. Lillian is committed to animal welfare.