Keep those ears healthy & clean!
As a deaf dog parent and advocate, and as a veterinary technician, I’ve learned a whole lot about deafness in dogs. For example, did you know that there are four primary reasons dogs are deaf? Statistics about the frequency of each cause are hard to come by, but with animal behaviorists at universities beginning to study deaf dog behavior, can academic investigations around the reasons for deafness be far behind?
Causes of deafness fall into one of four broad categories:
- Congenital, meaning they are born deaf
- Rare or unexpected side effects of medication
- Old age
- Illness or injury to the ear, especially chronic and untreated ear infections.
Of these reasons, the one that is almost universally preventable is an untreated ear infection. Proper ear care isn’t just something you should do, like you should pick up after your dog or you should use positive reinforcement training. Checking your dog’s ears frequently for dirt, waxy build up or a foul smell can help you and your veterinarian identify an infection before it gets out of control. Early detection, like so many things in both human and canine health, is critical to both a rapid recovery and preventing or limiting long-term consequences, such as deafness.
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Earlier this week, I noticed that one of my hearing dogs, Galileo, had a head tilt and was shaking his head a lot. He was shaking it mainly from his left side and I knew something was up. Head tilting or frequent head shaking are both signs of ear problems.
First, I examined the outside of the ear to rule out an injury. When I noticed nothing unusual, I looked inside his ear, and that’s where I saw the thick, dark waxy build up- and the funky smell. When I compared it to his other ear, which looked normal, I knew I had to do something.
Though I am a veterinary technician and I can generally figure out what is going on with my dogs and cats, and though I frequently have the ability to treat them at home, ears- much like the GI system – can get real ugly, real fast. So off to the vet we went!
When taking your dog to the vet to have his ears checked, it is important that you DO NOT clean them first. That gunky build up is critical to arriving at a diagnosis. The color, texture, smell and, of course, how it looks under the microscope all guide your veterinarian to a correct diagnosis. If you clean his ears before you go to the vet, you wash away everything that your vet needs to diagnose the problem properly. And then what? She can only use her best judgment when prescribing medication that may or may not work!
Take Away: If you suspect something is wrong with your dog’s ears,
get him to the vet as soon as possible but do not clean his ears before you go!
Once Galileo had been diagnosed with a unilateral otitis externa, the very technical term for an infection in one ear, she prescribed an anti-fungal ointment. The veterinarian gave me clear instructions: once I had cleaned and dried his ear, I was to dispense a small amount of the ointment into his ear and massage it to distribute the ointment.
As important as prescription medication is when treating ear infections, so too is cleaning them properly. Cleaning helps to clear away any debris which has accumulated since the last cleaning, which makes the medication’s job much easier.
For cleaning his ear, I chose to use the Bayer® ExpertCare™ Ear Rinse for a couple of reasons:
- It is antimicrobial, meaning it kills or helps protect against microorganisms, such as bacteria and some types of fungus.
- It is pH-balanced for good ear health.
- It contains ingredients that help dissolve waxy build up.
- It contains other ingredients that act as drying agents. Moisture is a friend to fungus and allows it to grow and proliferate.
- It contains Aloe Vera, which is well known for it’s soothing and healing properties.
- It is veterinary formulated especially for a dog’s unique ear needs.
Here is a great video by the American Veterinary Medical Association that shows you the proper way to clean your dog’s ears.
I also chose the Bayer® ExpertCare™ line because it is a brand name synonymous with good health and safe products. Since Bayer’s line of at-home first aid and grooming products are available exclusively at PetSmart®, it is also very convenient for me to pick them up- I’m at my PetSmart almost every week.
Early detection of Galileo’s ear infection, getting professional medical advice and properly treating his ear, including daily cleaning, has already improved the health of Gali’s ear. I am certainly prepared to live with a deaf dog. I am, however, unwilling to be the cause of his deafness because I neglected my pet parent responsibilities.
With the Bayer® ExpertCare™ Ear Cleansing Rinse, all pet parents have an effective and safe product available to clean their dog’s ears- and prevent a nasty infection that can cause irreparable damage to their dog’s sensitive tympanic membrane or inner ear. Deaf dogs can certainly live rich and happy lives- let’s just all agree that causing them to go deaf is not a good idea!
For additional information on keeping your dog’s ears healthy or other at-home healthcare products from Bayer®, please look here.