Ear Problems in Dogs
If an ear is painful, it should be seen the day you notice it. If the ear is just itchy, then you can try ear ointments with steroids, or a cool compress, or distraction to see if the itch is controllable. If a dog scratches his itchy ear with a dirty foot, he may get a nasty expensive bacterial infection. Dogs commonly have allergic problems with their ears which can cause a seasonal itchiness. This often responds to once a week treatment with an ear ointment that contains a steroid. Excessive use of steroid ear ointments can damage the ear canal and cause hair loss on the ear flaps. If the dog shakes its ears because the ears are itchy, then it may break a blood vessel in the ear flap, producing a gradually enlarging lump (aural hematoma). If the lump is near the head, the dog needs surgery to fix the ear flap within a week.
Ears do not respond well to getting wet. In most cases, they should not be cleaned. If a dog is swimming, submerging his head, ear problems can sometimes be prevented by filling his ears with a cleanser once a week, especially while still wet from swimming. Typically it also helps to apply an ear ointment with a steroid in it to the ear the next day. Many ears that are waxy respond well to just having an ear ointment with steroids applied once a week with no cleaning. If the ear is infected, it generally needs to be treated twice a day. Before applying medicine, pressing a facial tissue in the ear to wick up moisture can help get the pus or yeast out without irritating the ear. DO NOT WIPE - just press in the facial tissue, massage the ear canal and then pull out the tissue. DO NOT USE cotton tipped applicators or cotton balls, you are too likely to make the ear worse.