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How to prevent ear infections in dogs

A common problem for dogs is getting ear infections, especially if your dog has floppy ears (as opposed to ears that stand up, like a German Shepard or Frenchie).  Ear infections in dogs happen relatively often, but they are also easily treatable.  But it’s best to try to prevent those ear infections from happening in the first place, if possible!

Keep your dog’s ears dry.

Our Labrador Retriever used to get ear infections all the time (floppy ears!) until we figured out that they always happened after he went swimming at the beach.  It makes sense, because bacteria grow better in dark, moist areas, like a Labrador’s ear after a good swim!  If your dog’s ears get wet from swimming or being in the rain, be sure to gently dry their ears after.  Use gauze or cotton and wipe around the ear flap and the opening of their ear canal to dry out any excess moisture and prevent ear infections.

Trim excess hair to prevent ear infections in dogs.

Whether your dog has floppy or pointed ears, having a lot of fur or hair inside their ears can be a problem.  Excess ear hair can trap moisture and debris and cause ear infections in dogs.  Try trimming some of that extra fur or hair to help keep your dog’s ears dry and clean and prevent ear infections.

Clean your dog’s ears regularly.

You may have noticed, but the theme here is keeping your dogs’ ears clean and dry to prevent ear infections.  If you send your dog to the groomer, check with them to make sure they are cleaning your dogs’s ears as well (they probably are!).  If you groom your dog yourself, you can add cleaning their ears to their regular schedule so that you won’t forget.  It’s much easier to keep your dog’s ears clean than to take them to the vet and treat an ear infection!  (Plus, your pet will thank you for it!)

Choose the right food.

Did you know that ‘about half of the dogs with allergic skin disease and 80% of dogs with food sensitivities will develop ear inflammation’?  That’s according to the American Kennel Club. If your dog has allergies or food sensitivities, you probably already know you have to be careful what you feed your pet.  Preventing ear infections in dogs can be as simple as choosing the best dog foods and treats for your pet.  Processed dog foods can be filled with allergens, so look for ones that are made with the best ingredients, no artificial flavors or colors, and no extra salt or preservatives.  If your dog is having digestive issues as well, there could be a connection there.  Check out our article on dogs with sensitive stomachs for advice on what could be causing these issues and what to do about it.

Despite your best efforts to keep your dogs’ ears clean and dry, they still might get an ear infection.  If your dogs’ ears start to have a strong smell, it might be a sign that they have an infection.  Another indication is if your dog starts scratching their ears a lot, or doing with what our family calls ‘helicopter ears’ (when your dog is shaking their head a lot so their ears are like the propeller of a helicopter!).  These are signs that your dogs’ ears are itching or bothering them, so bring your dog to the veterinarian.  Ear infections in dogs are pretty common and usually easily treatable by your vet, but untreated infections can cause big problems, so take them seriously.

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