German shepherds are fantastic family dogs that require regular ear care. What’s more, cleaning of dog’s ears is one of the grooming processes that is easily forgotten.
That said, a poor checkup of your German shepherd ears can harbor bacteria and fungus that can lead to a severe chronic infection.
Cleaning your German shepherd ears is easy; however, it can be challenging to new GSD owners. What you ought to note is that cleaning your shepherd’s ears should be enjoyable and not traumatizing to your dog.
Additionally, always ask your vet to guide you on how to clean your German shepherd ears.
That said, by the end of this article, you will learn on the dos and don’ts on how to clean German shepherd ears.
How to Clean German shepherd Ears (preparation)
Preparation is vital before you start cleaning your German shepherd ears.
Consequently, any mishandling or using the wrong apparatus can damage your dog’s ears. However, you can consult your vet on the best ear solutions to use on your shepherd’s ears.
Here is what you should arm yourself with before you clean German shepherd ears.
Appropriate Ear Cleaning Solution
Never clean your dog’s ears with running water. Water can disrupt the ear canal Ph, thus enhancing the growth of bacteria and fungus.
A good medicated solution like the Zymox ear cleanser melts the wax without irritating your dog’s ears.
Don’t clean your German shepherd in a confined space, as this grooming process can be messy. You can use a well-designed dog’s grooming table that you can easily find on amazon.
Don’t use fabric clothing to clean German shepherd ears. Reason being they can leave traces of fabrics after you have cleaned your dog’s ears.
A towel will help control the overflow of the ear solution that you have put inside the dog’s ear canals
A Helping Hand
You may find it challenging to clean German shepherd ears alone. A helper will assist in keeping the dog still while you do the ear cleaning process.
Don’t clean German shepherd ears in your favourite pants. As you know, this grooming process can sometimes become messy.
Additionally, handle your dog with gloves. Holding your dog with bare hands may transfer infections to your shepherd’s ears.
Steps and Guides on How to Clean German shepherd Ears
After setting up your grooming area and putting the grooming tools in place, these guides will help you clean German shepherd ears with ease.
- First, gently place your dog on an elevated surface and if possible, let the dog be on a leash. Leashing will help in controlling the dog. It’s also a sign of authority.
- Carefully read the ear cleaning solution label and instructions.
- Next, your helper should gently hold the dog’s head to minimize movement when applying the solution.
- Then, inspect the outer part of the ear for any signs of infection or foul odour. A healthy ear is pink and has no discharge.
- If nothing alarming pull your German shepherd ear out and up gently, pulling this way helps in straightening the ear canal.
- After that, squeeze the ear solution inside the dog’s ear till the canal is full of the solution.
- Once the ear solution is inside the ear, gently massage the base of the ear (helps in spreading the medication) until you start hearing a squishing sound.
To this point, your dog may instinctively shake the head, and this can lead to spillage of the ear cleaning solution.
To stop the spillage, cover the outside of the ear with a towel or a clean soft cloth.
Next, give your dog a treat to keep him calm.
Lastly, insert a natural cotton ball, it will help in absorbing the excess solution, melted wax or any visible debris. Clean the ear with the cotton ball until the ball comes out clean.
Also, you can sprinkle an ear drying powder. However, it’s unnecessary as shepherd’s erect ears dry quickly.
You can repeat the same procedure on to the next ear. Finally, clean the mess and bin all the used materials.
Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your German shepherd Ears
Inappropriate Cleaning Solution
The ear is a delicate organ; thus, you should not use any cleaning solution on your dog without a vet doctor advice. Solutions like hydrogen peroxide have a high concentration that can cause ear irritation. Also, don’t use alcohol as it can disrupt the ear’s healthy flora. Disruption of the normal flora helps nature fungi’s like candida.
Using Small Quantities of the Cleaning Solution
It would be best if you had adequate, appropriate ear cleaning solution to help break the German shepherd ear wax. Squeeze enough quantity inside the canal and in circular motions massage the base of the ear.
Never Use Q-Tips
Not unless you are an expert I don’t recommend using cotton swabs inside your dog ears. Reason being, cotton swaps push down the ear wax rather than picking it up.
Additionally, Q- tips have a high chance of damaging the middle ear if not used appropriately.
Furthermore, if the dog is upset because of the ear grooming process, have a play break and try the same procedure after 30 minutes.
How Often Should I Clean German shepherd Ears?
German shepherd should have their ears cleaned once per every two weeks. Reason being, German shepherds, are not much prone to ear problems because of their erect ears and the L shaped ear canal, that allow free flow of air.
Additionally, always learn to start the ear cleaning process in your dogs, down from their puppyhood. Puppies will quickly adapt to this dog grooming process as compared to the adults.
Furthermore, if you are not sure of how to clean your German shepherd ears consult your vet.
What If My GSD Has An Infection?
Poor hygiene on your dog’s ears can cause bacterial, fungal and yeast infections. First, the infection starts with the outer ear and then progresses to the middle ear and lastly to the inner ear. Furthermore, if left untreated, these infections can cause vestibular disorders.
Additionally, because of their erect ears, German shepherds have minor infections as compared to their counterparts with flapped ears, for example, the cocker spaniels.
Large erect ears allow free air circulation thus enhancing drying out of moisture inside the ear.
Signs of an Infection in a Dog
Because of the uncomfortable nature of dog ear infection, the signs are easier to spot.
Some of the visible signs of a dog with an infection include:
- Scratching of the ears
- Rubbing the ears on hard surfaces
- Shaking the head severally.
- Inflammation, the skin may be raised than usual. Swelling is brought by the response of the immune system against the invading bacteria.
- Crusting; you may notice dead skin around the ears.
- Hair loss
- Discharge from the ears
- Foul odour from the ear
Types of German shepherd Ear Infections
- Otitis external; such an infection occurs on the outer visible part of the ear (the pinna).
- Otitis media: this is the inflammation of the middle part of the ear. Often, as a result of the spread of infection from the outer part of the ear.
- Otitis interna occurs when there is an infection of the innermost part of the ear.
Causes of Infections in a German shepherd Ears
Physical and environmental factors can cause ear infections in your German shepherd ears.
Bacteria and Yeast Infection
Bacteria and yeast can cause a severe problem of your dog’s ears. Similar to us humans, the ear canal of dogs has a healthy flora that helps sustain the immunity of the body. However, in some case, these bacteria can go out of balance, thus causing an infection.
The fungi candida and Malassezia cause yeast otitis/ infection. A dog with a yeast infection will have an itchy but painless ear.
However, for bacterial infections, the ear is often painful, and it produces an awful smelling discharge.
Foreign bodies, for example, dirt and grass seeds can cause an ear infection. Hence, it’s necessary for you to check your German shepherd ears now and then and also do a proper cleaning. Your vet can also advise you on how to clean German shepherd ears.
Another factor that can cause infections in a dog is allergies. According to the AKC, 70 to 80 % of dogs with food allergies manifest their allergies through ear infections.
Apart from the above factors, hormones can cause severe infection in your German shepherd ears. Such hormones include insulin and excess thyroid hormone.
Ear mites, veterinary doctors, call them Otodectes Cynotis. German shepherd ear mites are microscopic organisms that thrive under your dog’s coat. These parasites cause severe itchiness. Additionally, an otoscopic exam can help you spot these parasites.
If left unattended, these mites can lead to the infection of the outer ear.
Don’t over clean German shepherd ears. A little wax in the ears is good to maintain healthy flora. Though regular cleaning German shepherd ear is essential, overdoing it can eradicate the normal bacteria of the ear canal, thus promoting the growth of harmful bacteria.
Other factors that cause ear infection include
- Excessive moisture, common in dogs that love swimming
- Growth or tumours
- Injury to the ear canal
- Diagnosis of ear infection in dogs
Take your canine companion to the vet when you first note signs of an ear infection. Don try home remedies like apple cider vinegar as they can cause severe ear damage if not well formulated.
The vet may require you to answer some questions before checking up on your pet.
- For how long have you seen these symptoms on your dog?
- Does your dog suffer from any allergies?
- Is your dog on any medication?
- Have you bathed your dog or gone to a swimming pool?
After answering these questions, the vet may see the need for performing a physical examination of your dog.
The vet will visually access the ear for any inflammations and how your dog reacts to touch. The vet may check for any damage on the pinna and the inner part of the ear.
Also, the vet will perform an otoscopic exam to check whether your dog has a manifestation of mites and any debris build-up.
An otoscopic view can help the vet determine whether your pet has a ruptured eardrum.
Your vet may also take an allergy test on your dog, to check for food allergies.
If there is a tumour, a vet may have to take the biopsy of the overgrowth.
Treatment of German shepherd Ear Infections
After a full diagnosis, your vet will now be in a position to treat your dog. Treatment can last for a week, whereas other for other infections; treatment may take longer.
The good thing is that these ear infection can efficiently resolve under intensive ear care.
In the case of bacterial infection, the vet may prescribe oral antibiotics and steroids.
In some cases, the vet may find the need for removing the internal ear in case there is eardrum damage.
How Do I Prevent German shepherd Ear Infection?
Prevention is better than cure; I bet you have not seen this phrase for the first time. Taking preventing measure on your shepherd ears can help curb the growth of bacteria and yeast infection.
Such preventive measures include
- Check the ear regularly and seek veterinarian help severally.
- Keep your German shepherd ears dry.
- Trimming the hairy ears.
Is It Costly To Treat Shepherds Ear Infections?
The cost of treating your GSD can vary. For example, minor infection treatment cost may offset your bank account a little as compared to the cost of performing a surgical procedure.
German shepherd ears are sensitive, and they require maximum attention. Additionally, it’s good you visit your vet for helpful advice on how to clean German shepherd ears.
However, the above guides that I have outlined in this article can also help you clean the shepherd’s ears without a hitch.