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For some animals, chronic ear infections are a big problem. Long eared dogs suffer from lack of air circulation, causing bacteria to grow out of control. Even cats can have serious ear trouble. If your pet is more than just a little hot under the collar, try cleaning their ears by following these simple guidelines.

Excessive redness, scratching and irritation has many causes, including:

Ear Mites

1. Never use Q-Tips to clean your pet's ears.
2. Never use a scissors to trim around your pet's ear canal.
3. Never use water to clean the ears. It will cause infection.

The inside of your pet's ears should be light pink, dry and clean. Any one of these symptoms could spell trouble:

Foul odor
Wet patches
Excessive scratching
Signs of dried blood.


Bleeding from ear canal.
Excessive head shaking.
Excessive scratching.
Dark discharge from ear.

Dogs have especially sensitive ears. Long eared and long haired breeds are particularly susceptible to infection, irritation and build up of debris.


Ear Cleaner or Olive Oil
Cotton Balls

1. REMOVE HAIR. Many dogs have hair that actually begins to grow on the inside of their ears. This prevents air circulation and drying, and is often a precursor to infection. Before cleaning, check for any stray hair that is growing inside the ear flap. You can do this by folding your dog's earflap back. This will help to expose the hair. Squirt a small amount of powder on to the ear hair and massage a few times to coat the hair. Using your thumb and forefinger, grasp a small amount of hair and quickly pull the hair out in the direction that it grows. (This is less painful for the dog than using a scissors.) Never pull at an angle. If there is more hair growing beyond the reach of your fingers, use a tweezers to remove the remaining hair from your dog's ear canal.

2. SURFACE CLEAN FIRST. Moisten a cotton ball with ear cleaner and begin by cleaning the surface of the inner ear.

3. STRAIGHTEN EAR CANAL. Gently pull on your dog's ear to straighten the ear canal. Squirt one tablespoon of cleaner inside your dog's ear. This will allow the solution to travel down into the ear canal where your fingers can't reach. Gently massage the base of your dog's ear. (You should be able to hear the liquid inside the ear canal while doing this.) When finished, remove any excess fluid, discharge or debris from your dog's ear with cotton balls. Don't worry if there is remaining fluid when you are through. Your dog will shake most of it free.

1. Long eared dogs need to have their ears cleaned at least one a month.
2. For dog's whose ears do not provide enough circulation to remain free of debris and infection, leathers (to tie the ears back) can be a short term treatment option. Drying powders and creams work well, too.
3. Soothing lotions (containing aloe) can be used in between cleaning to help eliminate irritation and excessive scratching.


Cleaning your cat's ears works much the same way. Olive oil or a few drops of commercial ear cleaner can be used.

1. Warm olive oil or cleaner to body temperature.
2. Put one or two drops of liquid into the ear canal.
3. Massage the base of the ear for one minute.
4. Repeat with other ear.
5. Remove oil and debris with clean cotton ball.

Chronic ear infections can also be a sign of serious health problems. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian before treating your pet at home.