Cocker Spaniel ears are beautiful; they're luxuriously long, drooping, and covered in soft, silky hair.
Unfortunately, such beauty comes at a price!
Cocker ears need care and attention to keep them healthy and free from dog ear infection.
Their pendulous ears, by design, hang low, covering the ear canals, which results in the canals being dark, warm, moist places - ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive.
This, and the fact that they're covered with rather a lot of hair (both inside and out), means that their ear canals sometimes don't get the amount of ventilation they need to stay healthy.
You can help to improve the air circulation around your Cocker's ears by removing any excess hair just inside the ear opening and by keeping the hair around the entrance to the ear canal trimmed short.
I also recommend trimming the area underneath the opening to the ear canal in a neat semi-circle.
In addition, some breeders and groomers recommend shaving the underside of their ears (the leathers).
If you don't intend to show your dog, you might like to do this yourself, however, if you don't feel very confident about it, you could ask your groomer to do it for you.
Keeping your Cocker's ears trimmed in this way will help to get the air circulating around the ear canal which, in turn, will help to keep your dog's ears cool and dry - lessening the chances of bacteria over-breeding.
Keeping the fur trimmed in this way will also help to make brushing much easier too.
By keeping his ears scrupulously clean, you will be helping to eliminate many dog ear problems - and that's got to be good news for your pet!
Cocker Spaniel ears need a lot of care and attention as they're prone to infection. Cleaning them regularly and keeping them scrupulously clean will help to keep his ears free from infection.
Check them regularly for early signs of dog ear infection(s) - it only takes a minute, so you should be able to check them every day.
Lift your Cocker's ear and check the condition of the skin.
Does it look a nice healthy pink, or is it red and inflamed?
They shouldn't smell, and there should be no discharge - a nice clean 'doggie' smell is okay.
A small amount of wax is fairly normal; it isn't something to worry about and can easily be removed when cleaning your dog's ears.
A large amount of wax however, particularly if it smells unpleasant, or is very dark in colour, may be a sign that he has an infection.
If it's red or looks inflamed, if it smells bad (like cheesy feet) or if there is a discharge, then your dog may have an ear infection - it's time to visit the vet.
Always check your Cocker's lugs for grass seeds or twigs after a walk, especially if he's allowed to run free through fields! If you don't remove plant debris from your Cocker's coat, a seed or small bur could easily work its way deep inside, causing considerable pain or possibly an infection.
You'll know if your Cocker has something caught inside his ear canal - he'll probably shake his head from side to side, he may tilt his head to one side, or he may scratch at them - always be vigilant for these signs.
An ear infection can be very painful for your dog so it's important to get a diagnosis and the correct treatment from your vet as soon as possible.
If you don't, not only will your Cocker Spaniel suffer unnecessary pain but, if left untreated, there may be a risk of permanent damage.
It's not always easy identifying ear infections in dogs, so the vet may have to trial several treatments before successful diagnosis and treatment - all of which can be very expensive, not to mention painful for your dog.
Doesn't it make much more sense, therefore, to be proactive by avoiding infection and other problems in the first place?
Photo Credits - In order of viewing:
1. Sweetron1982 at Flickr.com
2. Tammy Mcallister at http://www.dreamstime.com/-image6367705