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Dear Bailey

Dear Bailey,

My dog has dirty ears. How should I keep them clean?

Clean ears are one component of keeping your dog healthy and happy. It's a good idea to check your dog's ears every week. If you brush your dog once a week (another good idea!), it's easy to do while you are doing your weekly brushing. What to look for: A healthy ear is light pink on the inside, with no excessive build-up, residue or foul odor. If your dog shakes or holds its head to the side, rubs his ears on the furniture, has a black or brown discharge from its ears, or very red or smelly ears, they may be infected, so talk to your parents about taking your dog to the veterinarian. Veterinarians know how to treat a dog's very sensitive ears and will be able to provide you with medicine, should your dog need it.

If your dog has floppy ears that hang down, you have to be especially careful to check its ears. Ears that hang down have less air circulation. Moisture can get trapped in the ear canal. Bacteria loves to grow in warm and wet places, so dogs with droopy ears tend to get more ear infections than dogs with erect, prick ears.

Keeping your dog's ears clean is important to its health.
Isabelle Francais ©AKC
During a standard, regular ear cleaning, make sure the hair on and under your dog's ear flaps is clean and tangle-free. Check for debris. Make sure no debris from the house or yard has gotten caught and tangled in the hair. If excess hair on the ears seems to bother your dog, you, your parents or a groomer can pull it away with a pair of grooming scissors.

Next, you can soak a cotton ball in an ear wash specifically designed for ear cleaning, which is available from your veterinarian or your local pet store. Squeeze out any excess fluid from the cotton ball, and use it to gently wipe the area around the ear canal (the inner part of a dog's ear), moving outward towards the edge of the ear flap. Let your dog shake out any excess moisture. Then, dip the tip of a cotton swab into the ear wash, and use it to clean the nooks and crannies near the ear canal of the outer ear. Make sure never to put anything inside a dog's ear — you should take your dog to the vet if you think that is necessary.

Your friend,

Bailey the Beagle

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