Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM
Yuck! What’s that gunk in my dog’s ears? That is a question I get asked frequently. Sometimes that gunk can just be ear wax. Sometimes there isn’t even that much gunk in the ear but the dog’s ear is red, swollen, and they are pawing it or rubbing it on the floor. If your dog has any of those symptoms, they would need to be taken to a vet.
Once at the vet, your veterinarian will examine your pet’s ears with an otoscope. The vet will likely take an ear swab of the gunk to look at under the microscope. Common causes of ear discharge are ear mites, bacterial infection, yeast infection, foreign material, or some combination of those things. Based on the findings your vet will recommend a treatment.
Ask your vet to show you how to properly clean the ears and apply the medications so hopefully the ear problems can fully resolve quickly. It’s important to follow up with your veterinarian to ensure that the ear problem is fully resolved. Even if the ears look completely normal at the top doesn’t mean that there still can’t be lingering problems deeper in the ear canal. Not getting ear problems fully resolved can lead to chronic, reoccurring ear problems.
Once the ear problem is fully resolved, it’s important to do regular ear cleanings for maintenance. Your veterinarian can tell you how often your pet needs their ears cleaned. Sometimes pets have such bad ear discharge or the owners are unable to clean or medicate the pet’s ears so the veterinarian may recommend a sedated ear cleaning. This is exactly what it sounds like; the pet is given a sedative to make them very sleepy and the veterinarian is then able to thoroughly clean and medicate the ears. You may also want to talk to your veterinarian about different types of testing for allergies because frequently, chronic ear infections are secondary to some sort of allergies (environmental and/or food).
Ask your veterinarian if the Pet Honesty Otic Ear Cleaner would be right for your pet. The Otic Ear Cleaner helps to clean and dry ears as well as reduce ear itching. It contains anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to help have fewer ear infections. It also contains aloe which is really nice to help soothe the ears.
Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.