Your dog’s ears should be clean, slightly pink-gray and have no odor. Problems with the ear to watch for include:
- Red, irritated skin
- Dirt or wax build up
- “Coffee grounds” (rare)
- Foul odor
- Frequent head shaking, or scratching/pawing at ear(s).
The most common problems with ears are ear infections (yeast or bacterial). Ear mites are actually pretty uncommon in dogs. In any case, any of the above symptoms are grounds for having the veterinarian check your dog’s ears out.
- Ear mites are treated with medication. Sometimes a reapplication is needed. Some people have gotten rid of light infestations by cleaning the ear out and then coating lightly with baby oil or mineral oil.
- Ear infections are a little harder to treat, usually requiring daily ear drops for a week or so, weekly drops for some time after that. Some dogs prone to ear infections need to have ear drops on a regular basis. Drop-eared dogs are a bit more prone to ear infections, as prick ears normally allow more air circulation.
For more, here’s Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM:
How to Prevent Ear Infections in a Dog
An easy home remedy to prevent ear infections (will not cure an existing one) is:
- 2 tablespoons boric acid
- 4 oz. rubbing alcohol
- 1 tablespoon glycerine
Shake well. Put 1 small eyedropper-full in each ear. Rub it around first, and then let the dog shake. Do this once a week and you shouldn’t see any ear infections. It works by raising the pH level slightly inside the ear, making it less hospitable to bacteria.
Cleaning a Dirty Ear
To clean out an ear that’s simply dirty (some buildup of dirt and wax is normal, but excessive ear wax may indicate that something else is wrong), take a cotton ball, dip in hydrogen peroxide if you like (squeeze excess out), and wipe the dog’s ear out.
The canal is rather deep, so you will not injure your dog so long as you only use your finger to probe the canal. Clean all around the little crevices as best as you can. Use another cotton ball for the other ear.
Be sure to dry the ears out thoroughly.