Problem

Why should I check my dog’s ears?

Getting into the habit of regularly looking at and assessing your pet will help you pick up any problems early on and get treatment if needed as soon as possible. Ears are one of the biggest areas for ‘vet visits’ in adult, otherwise healthy animals, so routine checking and health care can help reduce the risks of your pet being one of these.

How do I examine my dog's ears?

The easiest way to start is to use your fingers to feel all over the pinna (the sticky up bits or the flappy bits, depending on your breed). An image of a dachshund having it's ears checkedMake sure you feel the whole of the surface of the ear and note anything that seems unusual. A normal ear flap is cool, soft and free from lumps and bumps or areas of pain.

After you have checked the ‘flappy bit’ of the ear then you want to have a look in and around the ear canal itself. You are looking for anything you wouldn’t expect to see. A normal ear canal should appear a pale pink colour, it may have a little wax but should generally be quite clean and not smelly (it may smell a little waxy but not offensive). It should not be moist.

It is worth starting to do these checks for the first time after you’ve just had a vet check, as there may be certain lumps or bumps specific to your pet. If you know they’ve been checked and are ok you can used this as a ‘baseline’.

Explain to your vet that you are keen to start doing your own basic health checks so you can keep an eye on him between visits to the vet. You may well find they will show you any unusual things with your pet so you know what is already there. Be careful to explain that you are not trying to replace your vet by doing things at home but because you want to know the minute anything changes so you can get them treated.

Symptoms

What should I look for when checking my dogs ears?

In general, you are looking for anything that seems unusual to you. In general the following would be symptoms of something being amiss and worth a phone call to your vet:

  • If any part of the ear is painful.
  • There is an offensive smell to any part of the ear.
  • The skin in the ear canal looks reddened and inflamed.
  • There is a lot of wax.
  • You can see anything ‘moving’ in the ear canal (ear mites are relatively common in young dogs and can be very uncomfortable.
  • New lumps or bumps you hadn’t noticed before.

These checks are not meant to replace going to the vet but to help you identify what is normal for your pet and when things are ‘changing’ and may require more attention.

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