Health & Medical

Ask a Vet: How often should I clean my dog’s ears and what should I use?

Dog Ears | Vanillapup

Did you know that some ear cleansers sold outside may be harmful to your dog’s ears? Find out when you should clean your dog’s ears and what to use.

Q. How often should I clean my dog’s ears? Can I use colloidal silver?

There is no well-defined ear cleaning frequency for dogs and opinions vary. It depends on factors, such as the degree of wax buildup and whether the ears are suffering from or prone to an infection.

Dogs who do not have waxy ears or ear infections may not need a regular ear cleaning schedule at all.

If the dog has an ear infection, I may recommend a daily to alternate day ear cleaning schedule. However, ear cleaning may not be suitable for very sore and painful ears or damaged ear drums.

Hence, you should seek your vet’s guidance for an ear cleaning schedule that is best suited for your dog. It may change depending on the health of the ears at the time.

Ear cleaning products

As for using colloidal silver in ears, I am not aware of any studies on the safety of short- and long-term usage. Because of that, I do not generally recommend it. If you would like to use colloidal silver to manage an ear infection, do discuss this with your vet.

For maintenance, use an ear cleanser advised by your vet based on the condition of your dog’s ears.

These ear cleansers may contain propylene glycol, salicylic acid, chlorhexidine, TrizEDTA, or essential oils.

As different compounds serve different purposes (for example, some help to dry moist ears, while others help to dissolve wax), and some compounds could be toxic to the ears under certain conditions, only use them if you have a vet’s prescription.

Also, be careful not to use ear drops containing therapeutic compounds like pyrethrins (for ear mites) without veterinary advice. I am saying this because they are available outside of veterinary clinics without prescription.

Those compounds could worsen the condition of the ears or cause harm if the ear drum is not intact. At best, they would be ineffective as most ear infections are not caused primarily by ear mites.

Besides, the most common causes of ear infections are bacteria and yeast, which like ear mites, require a microscopic examination of ear debris for diagnosis.

Photo credit: Deannster via / CC BY-NC-ND

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Dr. Brian Loon
Principal Veterinary Surgeon at Amber Vet
BSc. BVMS (Hons) (Murdoch), Certificate Veterinary Acupuncture (IVAS)

Dr. Brian Loon graduated from Murdoch University, Western Australia in 2007 and has since been practising as a small animal veterinarian in Singapore. His areas of special interest include diagnostic ultrasonography, endoscopy, and minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery (laparoscopy).

He is also certified in Veterinary Acupuncture with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) and a certified and registered member of PennHIP, an internationally known modality for diagnosing hip dysplasia in cats and dogs.
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