Sunday, August 31, 2014

Waterpiks for a Cleaner Canine Ear

My first Border Terrier had ear problems in old age, and I spent a fair amount of time trying to keep his ears clean and keeping infection at bay. I did not know as much about antibiotics then as I do now, nor did I know the secret to cleaning out a dog's ears: a simple Waterpik dental machine.

A dog's ear canal has a vertical and a horizontal component and this elaborate construction predisposes dogs to ear infections as debris has to work its way upward rather than just straight out as it can with humans.

Ear problems in dogs usually stem from over-production of wax, which may be due to an irritation caused by debris, allergies, mites, or excessive inner-ear hair growth. You will know your dog has ear problems when it starts to shake its head, and when you get a rank smell coming from its ears.

If your dog has ear problems, shave off the inside ear hairs with a small clipper so that the wax will dislodge easier and the mites and fungus have will less opportunity to thrive.

After you have clipped way the inner ear hairs, give the ear a good cleaning with a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide and a Waterpick. If you do not have a Waterpik, use a syringe or squirt bottle and swabs. Go slow and be gentle, as the dog may be in a lot of discomfort. The hydrogen peroxide should loosen up the black wax, dirt, dead mite bodies, and infection, and help float it out. Do not shove the pikor swabs in too deep -- the tip should always be visible. Keep cleaning the ear until all of the debris is out. This may take several rounds over the course of a day if the ear is really gross. It always helps if there is another set of hands, some cotton balls, and a towel or two.

In order to knock down fungus and ear mites, I recommend putting a dog that has had ear problems on both ear mite medication drops (available from any pet store without a prescription) and also putting them on a 14-day regime of cephalaxin. (Fishflex or Keflex) The drops will help wipe out the ear mites, and the cephalaxin will knock down any inner ear infection. Work the ear mite drops deep into the ears and dose with cephalaxin by weight, as with a flesh wound.

Re-clean the ears and remedicate with ear mite medication drops every day for three days, keeping the cephalxen regime going throughout. After three days, stop the ear mite medication for a week, but keep the cephalaxin regime going. On the 10th day, reclean the ear, medicate with otitis medication every day for another three more days, and keep going on the cephalaxin until 14 days have gone by. At the end of this regime, the dog's ears should be back in order.

In extreme cases, you may have to keep this regime going for three weeks, rather than two. Recurring infections may be due to allergies, thyroid disease, or a weakened immune system in your dog, or perhaps an oddly shaped ear canal. Regular cleaning of ears may be all that is needed to keep things in shape, however.


Rocambole said...

Pepper has nice erect ears that never have a problem. Lindsey (cat) however, has had problems since he was a feral kitten with ear mites.

Would this technique (the water pik, not the drugs) work with a cat, too? I've swapped out his ears with hydrogen peroxide with a Q-tip (which gives my vet fits, but Lindsey is a laid-back guy that lets me do anything to him - he doesn't budge when I've got the Q-tip in his ear), but the water pik sounds safer.


PBurns said...

Probably, but my knowledge of cats is limited. Try a squirt bottle of the kind used for mustard or water. Works great too.

Gina Spadafori said...

This appliance is also used for cleaning nasal passages -- in PEOPLE. You can buy an after-market nasal tip.

This is my pharmacy, with a little allergy shop set up inside. They're right next to a clump of allergists, so they do a decent trade.

HTTrainer said...

I know you say the grade/cost/type or whatever of food does not matter, however, my experience is this, when I fed my goldens the cheaper store brand kibble they had severe ear problems. Their ears smelled like blue cheese (same bacteria) and required constant cleaning and medication. When I switched to a premium kibble the problems are non-existent. Their ears still need attention, especially after going in the water and bathing, but I'd rather spend my money on better food than a water pick.

smartdogs said...

For an even cheaper and easier fix try Zymox otic ear drops. Zymox is a non-perscription enzymatic product that contains "3 active enzymes that have been shown to be antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral."

You put drops in once a day and that's all. No mucking around inside a tender ear.

It does not work in all cases (what does?) but we've had wonderful results with so many dogs I keep it on hand all the time. It's great stuff.

PBurns said...

You will note I DO mention allergies on this post about ears. Not all dog foods are perect for all dogs, but NO ONE has ever shown that one dog food is better than another over a population of dogs. Sound like you might have a breed with pendulous drop ears -- they have more ear problems. Did you know that God made only one animal with drop ears -- the elephant. Drop ears in an animal is always a sign of domestication -- in rabbits, goats, dogs, etc.


sassanik said...

My dog keeps on getting ear infections, one of the things that seems to help is making sure to treat the feet that he is itching his ears with.

I have been using a solution of half white vinegar and water in a little bowl and sticking the dogs back feet in to get them wet.

However I am still having trouble getting the ear infections to fully clear up, the vets stuff doesn't seem to be helping.

Hopefully some of these suggestions will help me get it fully cleared up.

Carol Kimbrough said...

I ran into serious problem with a rescue lab/shar pei cross. He has the ridiculous small ears and ear canals of the pei, and one got fungus, according to my vet. Put on oral anti-fungal meds plus an ointment, it got better. But when only the ointment, it was terrible. We even discussed the rather radical surgery they do to stop such. One day at the store I noticed Jock Itch cream! Thought it might be worth a try. With just a bit into that almost non-existent ear canal, the fungus cleared up. He's was fine for 2 years. When the other ear began to have some trouble recently, one small treatment stopped that dead in its tracks, too.

Kim Grigsby said...

Carol I have ear issues and my ear nose & throat doc prescribes me drops that are for athletes foot. Good call with your baby dogs.