Cocker Spaniel ears are beautiful, but they're prone to health problems. Learn how to check your pet's ears and keep them clean and healthy and free from unwanted dog ear infections.
Just look at those ears, aren't they beautiful?
They're so luxuriously long and pendulous and soft and silky to the touch, but unfortunately such beauty comes at a price!
Cocker Spaniel's ears need a little extra care and attention to keep them healthy and free from infection.
Our Cocker's ears may be prone to infection, but if they're checked after each walk, cleaned and brushed regularly, you'll be going a long way to eliminating the chances of bacteria and infection.
Checking your dogs ears for early signs of infection(s) only takes a minute, so you should be able to do this every day, preferably after his walk.
Lift your pet's ear and take a look at the condition of the skin. Does it look a nice healthy pink, or is it red and inflamed?
It shouldn't smell, and there shouldn't be any discharge - a nice clean 'doggie' smell is what we want.
A small amount of wax is fairly normal so it's not usually something you need to worry about; it can easily be removed when you're cleaning your dog's ears.
If the inside of his ear is red or looks inflamed, or if there's a large amount of wax, particularly if it smells bad (like cheesy feet) or is very dark in colour, then your dog may have an ear infection - it's probably time to visit the vet.
It's a good idea to check your Cocker's lugs for grass seeds or twigs after a walk, especially if he's allowed to run free through fields where he can pick up all sorts of seeds and burs from grasses and shrubs.
If you don't remove plant debris from your Cocker's coat, a stray seed could easily work its way inside your pets ear, causing considerable pain and eventual infection.
You'll know if your Cocker has something in his ear if you see him shaking his head from side to side, (more than usual) or he may tilt his head to one side, as though he's listening to something.
Frantic scratching is another tell-tale sign of dog ear problems.
If you suspect your Cocker has something stuck in his ear, unless you can see it without 'digging' into his ear, it's best you leave it and ask your vet to remove it for you.
By design, Cocker Spaniel ears hang low and cover the opening to the ear which means that their inner ears don't get enough air circulating to keep them healthy.
They have a lot of hair on the underside of their ears, especially around the ear opening which can also contribute to poor air circulation.
This lack of ventilation can create a dark, warm, moist habitat - ideal breeding conditions for bacteria...and that's when the trouble begins!
You can help to improve the air circulation in and around your Cocker's
ears by removing any excess hair from just inside the ear opening.
To remove hair from inside the ear, grip the hair between your thumb and index finger and pull gently.
Alternatively, you can use tweezers or a hemostat.
Just remove a few hairs at a time and always pull in the same direction that the hair is growing.
Be careful not to work any further into your dog's ear than
about half an inch (12.5mm) as this area can be quite sensitive and
To get a better grip on the hair, you can
spray your pets ear with a little medicated powder to help absorb any
moisture and wax.
If you don't feel too confident about removing hair from inside your pet's ears, don't worry, your dog groomer will be able to do it for you or at the very least, show you how to do it yourself.
The hair underneath the opening to your dogs ear canal can grow quite thick and can often clump into mats, that's why I recommend trimming this area in a neat semi-circle.
It will help to improve air circulation and will be much easier to brush too!
Some breeders and groomers also recommend shaving the underside of Cocker Spaniel ears (the leathers) to help keep them fresh, but I think that's a personal choice.
Keeping your Cocker's ears neatly trimmed and brushed will help to get the air circulating around the ear canal
and will help to keep your dog's ears cool and dry -
lessening the chances of bacteria over-breeding.
If your Cocker is a regular suffer of ear infection, or if his condition is chronic there are a couple of things you can do to help.
Whilst I recommend you watch for early signs of ear infection, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis and the correct treatment from your vet as soon as you can.
Ear infections can be very painful for your pet and 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 dog ear problems in the first place?
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