Cleansing your pet’s ears
Your pet’s ears may require specific care for either hygiene or medical reasons.
The external ears of dogs, cats and rabbits consist of:
- The ear flap, which is mobile, floppy or erect and may be hairy.
- The L-shaped external ear canal, which ends at the eardrum
Behind the eardrum lie the middle and inner ears which contain organs ensuring hearing and balance.
Ear of a dog/cat/rabbit
Why cleanse your pet’s ears?
The ear canal contains glands that secrete earwax (cerumen), playing a cleaning and protective role.
Healthy ears stay clean thanks to a natural self-cleaning mechanism. However, it may be necessary to clean the ears of your dog/cat/rabbit with a suitable product if:
- the amount of earwax is abnormally high
- hair at the entrance or in the ear canal and/or its narrowness leads to the formation of plugs
- a lack of ventilation (pendulous ears…) encourages the growth of microbes, causing bad odors and otitis.
Breeds with a predisposition to otitis also require regular maintenance: drooping or hairy ears (beagles, poodles, etc.), long, narrow or winding ear canals (cocker spaniels, shar-pei, etc.) or breeds prone to allergies (bulldogs, westies, etc.)
NB: cleansing clean and healthy ears with unsuitable or excessive amounts of products can cause irritation.
Cleansing your dog, cat or rabbit’s ears: a how-to guide
When should I start and how often should I do it?
It is recommended to inspect your pet’s ears once a week in order to spot any abnormalities (such as a different color of earwax, redness, pain, etc.).
To find out whether you need to cleanse your pet’s ears, ask your veterinarian for advice.
In average, you are advised to cleanse your pet’s ears 1 to 2 times a month. For breeds predisposed to ear problems, once or twice a week in summer and once every fortnight in winter is recommended.
Train your pet to get used to having their ears cleansed at their young age.
How do I cleanse my pet’s ears?
- Hold your pet in a comfortable position in front of or next to you.
- Tilt the head slightly, hold the bottle upside down, insert the nozzle into the ear canal and pour in the product until the canal is filled.
- Massage the base of the ear from the bottom upwards and wipe away the excess with a compress or cotton wool (do not use a cotton bud).
- Let your pet shake his/her head and wipe the ear again.
- Repeat with the other ear.
- Remember to give your pet a treat and to disinfect the nozzle after each application.
An ear cleanser must be gentle yet effective.
It must dislodge earwax and debris without irritating the delicate skin of the ear. Its drying and deodorizing effect should help reduce bad odors.
Dr Vanessa Marmolejo, veterinarian