Dogs with floppy ears are prone to more dirt and infections. Is it difficult to clean Golden Retriever ears?
Although most Golden Retrievers do not love having their ears cleaned, it’s not a difficult task to achieve. Learn how we clean Golden Retriever ears and how often we do this with our pack of 3 Goldens. Be warned it can get a little messy but it’s better than getting ear infections.
Why Clean Golden Retriever Ears
Dogs that have floppy ears hide the inside very well. Owners don’t always get to notice if the ears are getting dirty. All dogs that go outside are going to get muck in their ears. We know that Golden Retrievers roll around on the ground, so it’s not difficult to imagine dirt and debris getting inside.
Dogs with unwanted muck in their ears can lead to ear infections, something many of us know can be very painful.
Dogs ears are very similar to human ears. They have the external flap also known as the Auricle or Pinna. Pinna’s vary in size shape and type according to the breed. Golden Retrievers Pinna’s fold over. They are still able to capture sound and a dog will prick her ears up if listening. Pinna’s move independently of each other. These can get infected through minor wounds, fights or when you have multiple dogs play fighting. Once infected they blow up like a balloon.
This is a picture of Finlay’s Pinna. It’s pink and warm because he’s just been outside in the summer heat. I do not see any hot spots and his Pinna looks clean. Hot spots would look like facial zits.
Then you have the external canal, middle and inner ear. The external canal is long and captures sound funneling it to the eardrum better than a human. They hear 4 times better than we do and can hear high pitch sounds we cannot. The eardrum is in the middle and lastly the inner ear section which has the organ that detects sound, the cochlea.
Fortunately, we need only clean the outer ear which is cartilage.
I want to talk about why we regularly look in our Golden Retrievers ears. One of them is prone to hot spots and they are more prevalent in hot summers than any other time of year. The other two do not apparently suffer from the same condition.
What are Hot Spots? Acute moist dermatitis the official name is a skin disorder. They can be caused by a number of things:
- Rubbing ears along the ground.
- Scratching ears.
- Insect bites or stings.
- Tangled ear hair.
Hot spots can occur anywhere on a dog’s body but the floppy ears seem susceptible. The best prevention is keeping your Goldens ear Pinna clean.
A hot spot looks exactly as it sounds. It will be a spot and it will be red. They need to be treated to stop the dog continuously scratching at it which makes the condition worse. The heat of summer seems to bring them out more. It’s more likely that the causes are more prevalent in summer. The folded over flap can let bacteria grow sight unseen, so check often.
What Products To Use & When
We look at our Golden’s ears about once a month. Our dogs get a mini health day on the first of every month. It’s an ideal way to remember when to do things. They get Heartworm medication, Flea and Tick Treatment, a paw and claw inspection and a quick ear inspection.
Finlay my eldest gets hot spots almost every summer. The first time we visited the vets to get it checked out. Now we know what it is we treat it at home. We also clean his ears more often, he seems prone to getting more dirt in his pinna’s than my other 2 dogs. Finlay gets his ears checked weekly to make sure nothing is irritated.
To clean every dog’s ears when needed, I use a product called Zymox Dog Ear Cleaner. In the event, a dog has hotspots we use Sulfodene 3-Way Ointment for Dogs after cleaning the ears.
Zymox Ear Products can be found here.
When Finlay’s ears were in a severe state the vet prescribed TrizUltra + Keto dog ear cleaning solution to wash his ears out followed by Mometamax gel to use after for a week. The gel includes anti-biotics and is applied twice a day and gently massaged in.
How to Clean Golden Retriever Ears at Home
You can clean the ear with your dog lying down or standing up. Start by looking for any larger lumps of debris you can take out with your hand or use a damp cotton ball.
Most dog cleaner products are a water-like fluid with a nozzle you squirt into the ear and then massage. A one or two-second squirt should add enough fluid to the ear area. Drop the Pinna or ear flap quickly to keep the fluid inside and start massaging.
The massage and thin fluid will loosen debris which you wipe out with cotton balls. Do one ear at a time.
Your pup will shake his head so watch out!
Don’t worry about hurting the cartilage, you need to clean in all the groves. Firmly clean all the areas. You can go quite deep without the danger of going into the ear canal. Push your cotton ball as far as it will go without force to clean the bottom. You cannot get into the eardrum and hurt it or damage it with a cotton ball.
- Do not use any cotton buds to poke down the ear canal!
- Do not use water to clean the ears.
- Do not use vinegar to clean the ears.
- There’s no need for you to shave or trim the fur around the ear.
- Fur helps keep out unwanted muck from the canal.
If your Golden gets mucky Pinna’s we suggest a more regular cleaning to try and keep them clean. Once your Golden gets used to it you should not get any objections. It does not hurt, it just feels odd.
When To Visit The Vet
- I suggest if your Golden has unusually dirty ears for the first time, you pay a visit to the vet. She or she may have ear mites. Your dog will likely shake her head a lot, have what looks like coffee grounds in her ear which form into clusters of crusty lumps outside the canal. She will be scratching a lot. She may even be exhibiting hearing loss.
- Mites are more common in cats but they can be transferred from a cat to a dog. Your vet will prescribe cleaning and some ointment but mites are contagious. In multiple dogs or animal homes like ours, you’ll need to clean anything that may have them on, like dog and cat bedding and blankets or towels the animals use. Wash any soft toys as well or throw them out.
- If your dog has not responded well to the home treatments you have used then pay a visit to your vet. Infections that get worse over time or left untreated will hurt more. Any subdued dog likely is in pain and a trip to the vet is the best option.
- If you ever see a foreign object sticking out of the ear canal itself, take your pup to the vet. They’ll be able to see more clearly what the object is and be able to remove it without further damage.
- If the ear canal appears to be blocked with debris.
- If you are not sure, don’t ignore and don’t self diagnose. Call your vet.