Wednesday, October 21, 2009

THE PROPER CARE OF THE EAR

On the average, not too many owners have lots of complaints about taking care of the German Shepherd Dogs ears, unless you’re talking about having to tape a youngster’s ears to help them stand. But that is a whole another story for another article. However, there are those certain dogs that seem to have chronic ear problems. One of my shepherds that I had years ago always had yucky, black “uglies” in her ears. My vet would give me medicine which would clean up the mess and she’d be fine for awhile, but as time went by, she’d have it again. It’s so long ago now that I forget what the actually condition was called. It was probably ear mites and they were “stinky” as well!

If a dog’s ears are not properly taken care of then infection can occur and even in extreme cases, loss of hearing. Checking the dog’s ears should be a normal part of the dog’s grooming procedure. Also if the dog shakes his head a lot or carries his head to one side, there’s a problem. Surprisingly, ear problems are one of the most common conditions in dogs. Most of the time if the dog’s outer ear canal is infected its called otitis externa. This condition affects about 20% of all dogs.

The reason that dogs get these ears problems is due to the shape of the canine’s ears. The dog’s ear is long and L – shaped. Bacteria and debris collect in the L – shape area of the ear. Add that with the warmth and moist environment in the ear and it’s easy to see why infection may occur. This is why it’s important to keep the dog’s ears dry especially after bathing him. Dogs that produce an over abundance of ear wax or hair growth in the ear canal are also at risk for ear infections. Another thing that can cause ear infections is skin allergies and hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism. I didn’t know that. I just learned something new.

If your dog is an outside animal who likes to run in the woods or go for hikes with you, pay close attention to his ears. Foreign bodies especially plant material can cause infections to start. Also check your dog’s ears for ear mites and ear tumors.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, check your dog’s ears. He may have an infection. If he scratches and rubs his head, if he tilts his head and holds it to one side, if he doesn’t want you to pet him on the head, he could be in pain, there may be a discharge or an odor, if you look in the ear you may notice a swelling or redness in the ear, or if you notice that you dog is more irritable and lies around more, he may be in pain.

If your dog has any of these signs, its best you have him examined by your vet. He will have the instruments to look into the dog’s ear canal and determine the best approach for treatment. Leaving a dog that has an ear problem untreated can not only lead to deafness, but the infection can extend to the inner ear and become life threatening.

There are natural treatments in the market place that you can use to clean the animals ears gently. Poking around with Q-tips is never advisable. They can rupture the ear drum or push the debris down further into the ear canal. When using a solution, apply in the ear canal. Massage the base of the ear to help loosen the wax or debris. The dog will shake his head and this is alright because it will help further loosen the buildup. Use a cotton ball to remove the excess fluid. Repeat the above until you feel that all of the debris is removed. Some veterinarians will recommend that you trim any excess hair in the dog’s ears so there is better air flow and this can help prevent an infection. They may also suggest that you treat a dog that has allergies or hypothyroidism which may be a contributing factor if your dog has chronic ear infections.

Many German Shepherd Dog breeders use a home made ear solution called The Dixie Ear Treatment. The ingredients are: 16 ounce bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol, 4 tablespoons of Boric Acid Powder and 16 drops of Gentian Violet Solution 1%. You mix this all up in a plastic bottle. You treat as described in the above directions for a natural ear solution only with the second application, you wipe with a cotton ball or tissue but you don’t massage. You leave it there for the dog to shake out the debris. Depending on how severe the ear infection is, you can treat two times a day for one to two weeks. Then the following week, you can treat one time a day for ten days. Then treat once a month as needed. This mixture seems to work well on most ear problems. Most of the ingredients can be found in your pharmacy. I’ve never used this treatment on my own dogs so I’m just reporting what I hear a lot of people use on their dogs. If you are unsure, always check with your veterinarian for his advice before using this solution or any other one.

My rating: checking your dogs ears as a necessary part of grooming: (4), natural ear solutions: (4), Dixie Ear Solution (based on what other breeders say): (4), medications: (3)

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