Applying ear drops to dogs

Ear problems are common in dogs. Dogs may need ear cleaning and medication given inside their ears. Applying ear drops can be stressful for your dog as well as for you. 

Your dog’s ears may need cleaning if they have a waxy appearance, usually dark brown. Dogs who shake their heads or scratch their ears may have ear problems. You should check their ears regularly and contact your vet if you notice any unusual signs.


What it’s for

Why do dogs need ear drops?

Ear problems in dogs that require ear drops for treatment:

When do dogs need ear drops?

Your dog may need ear drops if they have:

  • Itchy ears
  • Head shaking
  • Persistent wax or dirt
  • Painful ears
  • Intense smell from the ears
  • Ear discharge (pus or blood)
  • Wounds on the ears
  • Redness, heat, and swelling in the ears

Contact a vet if you see any of these signs in your dog.

What kind of ear drops are there for treatment?

There are two main treatments that your vet may recommend:

  • Medicated ear cleaners:

Cleaners that can break the wax down and have antibacterial and antifungal properties to help balance the microflora in the ear.

  • Medicated ear drops:
    Ear drops that have antibiotics, anti-fungal and steroids and are used to treat infections and can only be prescribed by a vet.


How it’s done

How to prepare your dog for ear drops

Cleaning your dog’s ears can be nice and simple!

  • It is advised to train your dog to allow you to handle and stroke the ears from a young age.
  • If your dog suffers from skin allergies and has ear problems frequently, it’s important that they are trained to accept their ears being cleaned and treated.

If you make this an enjoyable experience with reward base training, they will be happier to have their ears treated when the time comes.

See more information on “Recovery” section below.

How to apply ear drops to your dog’s ears

  • If possible, wear gloves. If not, remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Hold your dog’s head up.
  • If using medication drops, follow your vet’s instructions on dosage.
  • When using an ear cleaner, always check the product instructions.
  • If you are using a vet ear cleaner, it is usually recommended to fill up the ear canal until you see the liquid appear.
  • Then massage your dog’s ears to break down the wax.
  • Use a cotton wool ball to remove the excess debris and fluid. Never use cotton buds as you may damage the eardrum.
  • They will want to shake their head. This can result in fluid flying around. Let them shake (don’t get hit by any flying liquid!).
  • Reward your dog with a treat to make the experience more positive. Using a lick mat with a tasty spread also helps with cooperation during this procedure.



How much does it cost to treat ear problems?

Cost depends:

  • On the type of problem and treatment.
  • Prescription ear drops and out-of-the-counter ones have very different purposes and price ranges.
  • Don’t let advertisements deceive you. Talk to a vet before buying an ear drop product.



Can ear drops be dangerous for your dog?

Treating your dog’s ears can be dangerous in two situations:

  • Cotton buds can rupture the eardrum.
  • Medication can be harmful if the eardrum is ruptured, which is why your vet must check your dog’s ears before prescribing.


Recovery tips

Your dog doesn’t like to have their ear touched?

Training your dog for it is the best way to achieve a successful treatment.

Try to make this an enjoyable experience with reward-based training.

  • Choose a quiet time and place.
  • Cuddle their head and ears.
  • Reward them.
  • Use a wet cotton ball and touch their ears.
  • Reward them.
  • When your dog is comfortable with this start applying a few drops of an ear cleaner.
  • If your dog is fidgety and small, use a towel to wrap them up and gently restrict their movements. Otherwise, hug them to help restrict their movements.


When to worry

When should you worry about your dog?

If your dog is having ear drops, you should contact your vet if:

  • Your dog does not improve despite treatment.
  • The procedure is too painful.
  • Your dog is scratching or licking other parts of the body.
  • You see any wounds on the skin.
  • Your dog is quieter than usual.
  • Your dog has vomiting or diarrhoea.

Joii can help if:

  • You see wax in your dog’s ears.
  • Your dog has itchy ears.
  • You need help applying ear drops in your dog’s ears.
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