One of the more common questions asked in veterinary dermatological practice involves cleaning pets’ ears. The frequency of ear cleaning needed will depend upon several factors, including the presence of pre-existing ear disease, anatomic conformation, as well as presence of wax and/or discharge.
Certain breeds, including many Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels, will need their ears cleaned up to a few times weekly as maintenance, because of the tendency to build up wax and discharge. Many pets, including most cats, often don’t need their ears cleaned at all. If a pet develops an ear infection with increased inflammation, wax, odor, discharge or pus, then cleaning ears is often an important part of the daily treatment and regimen.
The type of ear infection diagnosed by your veterinarian will determine what is ideal to clean the ears. Many veterinarians will evaluate the ear discharge under the microscope to see if yeast and/or bacteria are present, both of which usually require different types of ear cleaning solutions. A few of my favorite all purpose ear cleaning solutions are Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser and Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution with Hydrocortisone which can work in a wide variety of types of ears and for various types of discharges. It is easiest to simply flush these solutions liberally down the ear canals and then allow the pet to shake their head, before wiping excessive solution with a dry gauze or cotton balls.