By Courtney Emken
co-written by Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott
Just like us, dog’s eyes and ears need an occasional cleaning to flush out gunk and to help prevent possible infections. Unfortunately for our canine pals, they lack the opposable thumbs necessary to perform this delicate task, so it’s up to us owners to keep them clean!
However, cleaning the ears and eyes isn’t as straightforward as giving your dog a bath. Without the proper precautions, you can accidentally damage these sensitive organs. In this article, we’ll detail how we keep our kennel dogs squeaky clean so you can do the same from home. But first, let’s get a common question out of the way.
Should I Use QTips To Clean My Dog’s Eyes Or Ears?
When it comes to your dog’s ears, follow the same guidelines as you would for yourself or a child. Generally speaking, you should avoid inserting anything inside a dog’s ear canal unless otherwise instructed by a vet. Small objects like Q Tips can puncture ear drums and cause significant (and even permanent) damage.
However, Q Tips are good tools for wiping away grit and grime on the outer ear and the visible areas of the inner ear. Just make sure to wipe gently and to be exceedingly careful. Dogs will often shake or jerk their heads unexpectedly during an ear cleaning. If you’re not paying attention, this can cause you to accidentally jam the Q Tip into their ear canal.
How To Safely Clean A Dog’s Eyes And Ears: DogBoy’s Style
The first step to a successful cleaning is to do it while your dog is calm and relaxed. Wait until you’ve taken them for a walk or after they’ve settled down for the day. The last thing you want when cleaning such sensitive areas is a hyper dog who just can’t sit still.
Furthermore, you want to make the experience as pleasant as possible for your dog. Go grab their favorite treats, a tasty bone, or a peanut-butter Kong for them to lick while you’re messing with their eyes and ears. Doing this will build a positive association with the cleaning and make it easier on both of you.
Next, start slowly and test your dog’s reaction. Clean a small area and watch how your dog seems to be handling the contact. If they’re uncomfortable, or are too distracted to stay still, you may need to make some changes to their environment, such as:
- Turning off the TV
- Taking them to a quiet, closed off room
- Putting on some relaxing dog-music
Some dogs are particularly sensitive about their eyes and ears, especially if they weren’t socialized to human touch in these areas. With these dogs, you just need to be patient and focus on making the cleaning as gentle and positive as possible.
When you start cleaning the eyes, use a warm compress to soften debris first. Eye discharge can form stubborn deposits in the corner of the eyes and on the surrounding fur. Trying to clean this caked-on gunk without weakening it first can hurt your dog.
Apply the warm compress for 15-30 seconds, then gently wipe from the center of the eye and outwards. This will sweep away the hardest deposits and allow you to comfortably clean the remaining grit with eye wipes.
Once you’ve cleaned the eyes, grab a few gauze pads or cotton rounds and move on to the ears. Saturate these pads with a specially formulated ear-cleaner and gently wipe each ear. We use Epi-Otic for our kennel dogs, but there are tons of good solutions out there.
While wiping, make sure you don’t go any deeper into your dog’s ear than what two fingers will allow. Otherwise, you’ll be taking the same risk as inserting a Q Tip into your dog’s ear canal.
After you’ve cleaned the ears out, give them a quick whiff and inspect the cleaning pad. If you detect a funky smell, and/or the cotton pad is covered with brown gunk, you’ll need to take a visit to the vet. These are sure signs of an ear infection, and you’ll need antibiotics or antifungal medication for proper treatment.
After everything’s said and done, give your dog some high value treats as a reward. If you make the cleaning experience pleasant and rewarding, your dog will be much more eager to sit still for you in the future.
If you have any questions about cleaning your dog’s ears and eyes, or want a cleaning demonstration at the Ranch, contact us today. We’d love to share more advice, tips, and tricks for making the cleaning process as smooth as possible for both you and your dog!