Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Floppy Ears are Warm Blankets

by User Not Found | Mar 01, 2012

Petting your golden and checking their ears should go hand in hand.  This time of year always reminds me of that.  Yeast, although handy for making pizza and bread, is not quite as wonderful when it emits a pungent odor from golden ears.  Think of it this way, when you’re sleeping in bed in the winter and you are nice and toasty warm, what’s the worst thing someone could do to you, rip the covers off!  Now imagine you are yeast and the warm blankets are your dog’s ears, floppy ears.  The flop keeps the inside of the ear, warm, dark and just a little bit damp and perfect environment for yeast to grow and sometimes bacteria too.  Watch out, it sneaks up on you.  Just last week, I was petting my big boy Gus and I happened to flip up his ears and wow.  Red, dirty and smelly, both ears were quickly on their way to a serious infection.  Perhaps you feel better now that you know it even happens to me and I’m quite sure both of my dog’s inner monologues sound something like this, “can you just pet me instead of examining me all the time?”


Ok, so now that we know yeast likes warm, wet and dark environments, we can talk about how to fix that.  For starters, you should keep the hair around your dog’s ears trimmed.  The hair can keep debris and other nasty stuff from escaping.  It can also get dry and break off and fall into the ear causing the same problem.  Be careful if you aren’t handy with the scissors or a clipper or have someone help you.  Another option is to have the groomer do this for you.  The next thing I always have on hand is some sort of cleaner.  This can range from plain white or apple cider vinegar to fancy vet stuff.  I keep the fancy vet stuff around (you can buy it online for a reasonable price) because I have a golden with persistent allergies and this is just what works for him.  But for normal maintenance, a perfect cost effective solution is to mix 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and use it as a rinse.  Some folks add alcohol (rubbing) to this mix but I have never found it to be extremely helpful.  In addition, you must be careful if the ears are red and infected because they may have open sores, either from scratching or irritation.  Getting alcohol and sometimes vinegar into those sores can really hurt!  If you see this, it’s probably best to make a trip to the vet for some antibiotics.  Remember, red and hot and just overall angry looking ears are not a good thing.


Now for cleaning!  The best way to clean ears is to lift the ear straight up.  Dog’s ear canals are curved, they drop down and then make a good hard turn towards their head.  When you grab the base of the ear (at the top of the head) and pull up, you straighten this turn out a bit.  If you have a dropper or a turkey baster or something (I wouldn’t recommend using this to baste your turkey afterwards), you can fill it with your vinegar solution and gently squeeze it into the ear.  With your other hand, you can actually hold the ear canal in your fingers (it is about the size of your pinky finger) and mush the solution around in the ear, listen for the squish squish sound. Yummy right?  Massage the ear canal a little to get the debris to loosen up and then let go!  Let your pup shake his head and the debris will come up and out.  Did I forget to mention you might want to do this outside!  Oops!  When you lift the ear again, you may see some of this debris stuck on the inside of the flap and it can be easily wiped off with a cotton ball.  You can use a Q-tip to get the little crevices that you can see, but if you’re staying on top of things, there’s no reason to go digging down into the ear canal with a Q-tip.  If you need to, just unroll a cotton ball and use it to wrap around a Q-tip.  This will keep you from jamming it too far down into the ear canal and injuring the ear drum.  Ideally, the massage and the head shake should bring all that stuff out so you don’t have to go digging for it.  Plus you get those cute groaning noises from your dog when you massage their ears, so funny.  Remember to give lots of treats and make it fun, or you’ll be running them down and tackling them football style to clean ears and that’s not fun for anyone.  It will certainly make it a lot tougher to stay motivated to keep them clean if it’s more like a chore.


As the warm weather approaches and you start shedding the blankets, remember your floppy eared friends.  At least a couple times a week, check on them when you are giving them one of their favorite ear rubs.  Start a weekly routine of cleaning them out with your vinegar solution, especially if you have a pup prone to allergies, both food and environmental.  If your dog starts shaking his head and scratching, this is a great warning sign if you jump on it right away, that things are getting ugly in there.  But remember, those troublesome yeast sneak up on all of us sometimes and your vet can help with reinforcements if needed.

Cheers and Happy Yeast Hunting!


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