Quick solution makes ear cleaning simple An often-overlooked requirement of pet care is ear cleaning. If you have a dog with flop or folded ears, you know how important ear cleaning is. If you notice your dog shaking its head, pawing at its ears, or scratching, ear cleaning is in order. The pup might also have a severe head tilt, odor or scratch at its ears, which could indicate an infection. Like anything else, you might have to work into cleaning slowly, but the pup will learn to cooperate and might begin to enjoy the feeling of fresh ears! ear cleaningWhat do you need? Before you get the dog and announce that it's ear cleaning time, gather everything you need. That way when you chase and corral the dog, everything is ready! If you keep the items together in a little box or basket, you can approach the dog while it is resting, which can make the process easier. 1. Large weave gauze or large cotton balls, and scissors to cut gauze if necessary 2. Ear rinse 3. Napkin or trashcan for soiled discards 4. Treats, broken or cut small. I use one full-size treat broken small. What should you avoid?? 1. Do not use water, because it can pool in the ear and cause pain and damage. 2. Alcohol can burn the ear, making cleaning difficult. If your pet has any scratches or infection, the alcohol will be uncomfortable in what can already be a challenging situation. 3. Hydrogen peroxide will evaporate, leaving water in the ear canal. 4. Cotton swabs can push wax and debris deeper into the ear canal and with only minor pressure rupture the ear drum. 5. Small cotton balls, especially when wet with ear rinse, can slip into the ear canal and be difficult to retrieve. The result can be discomfort and a trip to the veterinarian. How do you clean the ears? Get your kit together and bring the dog into a relaxing place that is easily cleaned. I prefer an open area, such as the kitchen floor. Or if the dog is already relaxing, approach it with a soothing voice and treats. Sit on floor with dog so that you both are comfortable. I usually stoke its fur and scratch the outside of the ears near the base of the head and get the dog to lie on its side. Then tell the dog "we" are going to clean the ears. The directions on the rinse say to squirt the ear rinse into the ear and let the dog shake its head. Dogs despise having anything squirted into their ears and run away. So wet a gauze or cotton ball with the rinse and wipe the ear. The dog often tries to run when it sees the bottle come out, but wetting the gauze while talking to the pup eases its anticipation. Stay on the outside portion inside the ear to get the fuzzy one accustomed to the temperature of the rinse. You don't need to heat it. Room temperature is fine, as long as the dog knows what to expect. Ears on big dogs are easier to see and clean, but the process is the same with all dogs. 1. Work inward and wipe gently as long as the dog will tolerate or until the ear is clean. 2. Speak softly and tell the dog her ears are really dirty, or getting good and clean and that she is doing well! Talking keeps you both present in the moment and lets her know that you are comfortable, so she can be, too. 3. Reward with a small treat every time you get a new gauze. 4. Then give the dog a rest and a few treats and have it turn over to the other side. 5. Pet the dog again, feed a few treats, and clean the other ear. 6. When you've built enough trust after many cleanings, you can add the ear rinse to both ears to flush out any wax and debris, but if you always work with an up-and-out motion, you should not impact was into the ear.?6. When you are finished, make a big production about the fact that we're ALL DONE!!!!! And give the pet the remainder of the treats. After that, let the dog run if it wants to run, but play with it or reward it in other ways if you can. This is critically important to your dog's health and comfort, and it can be a good time to enjoy taking care of your dog. Ear cleaning is like brushing. It's good for both of you, but it takes practice. If you need assistance with ear cleaning, ask your veterinarian. By Beth Crosby

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