The dog’s sense of hearing is better than ours; he actually hears twice as well as man. Normally, the dog during play may injure his ears, and also, at a point in time, the ears may get infected.
This is an inflammation of the ear, and is very common in the dog and leads to scratching and shaking of the head. Sometimes a small blood vessel becomes damaged during the course of the dog scratching and shaking his head, and blood clot collects beneath the skin of the ear-flap (pinna), forming a large swelling – a hematoma. This is not as painful as an abscess but may cause some discomfort to the dog, and worries the owner because it is unsightly. If left untreated, it causes crinkling of the ear.
Otitis is frequently caused by ear-mange mites. If a small wad of cotton-wool be inserted into the ear and wiped around, it will, in a case of ear-mange, be found to bring with it a waxy-powdery deposit, brown or blackish. If this is examined under a powerful magnifying glass, mites may be seen moving.
Again, you can use a little of one of the insecticide shampoos to kill the mites. If there is much wax present, a little warm water containing a pinch of washing soda may be used as a preliminary cleaning agent.
Be sure to avoid poking around with an orange-stick or any other sharp object, and avoid also, any ‘canker powders’ bought over a shop counter, as some tend to clog the ears without doing any good.
Diseased ear conditions, if not treated, may cause deafness. Trouble should be suspected if the dog shakes his head or carries it sidewise, or if he rubs an ear against the floor or attempts to massage it with his paw.
Deafness can be a congenital defect associated with a white coat (e.g. in the white Bull Terrier), and this should be borne in mind when buying a puppy. Another cause of deafness is injury to the ear, and this underlines the danger of poking about in the ear. Other causes of deafness include: nerve damage, blockage of the Eustachian tubes (which lead from the throat to the middle ear), and a brain injury. Also, carbon monoxide poisoning may cause deafness, but this is in a few cases.
THE INTERNAL EAR
Inflammation and infection of the internal ear gives rise to loss of balance and to circling movements. It requires veterinary treatment, or infection may spread to the brain.
WAX AND FOREIGN BODIES
Other condition of infection in the dog’s ear could be an excessive secretion of wax, and this gives rise to an offensive odor. Spaniels are very prone to this sort of ear trouble, and the large flap hanging down is probably a disadvantage. But as a first-aid measure, you can fix the ear- flaps inside-out above the head by means of adhesive plaster. This allows for the circulation of air, and the mere ventilation by itself is sometimes sufficient to clear up this objectionable disorder. In long-standing cases of purulent otitis, a surgical operation called aural resection may be the only satisfactory method of treatment.
A foreign body such as a grass seed may become lodged in the ear and worry the dog.
In order to help ease irritation from a foreign body or soften wax, a little olive oil may be dropped into the ear and worked around. This can also be used as a first-aid measure where there is no pus. Afterward, you can use a small wad of cotton-wool for cleaning, and make sure that you do not wrap it around an orange-stick or other pointed object. You may obtain from your veterinary surgeon, ear-drops specially formulated for the condition present in your dog’s ears. Ingredients include wax softeners, antibiotics, or local anesthetic – according to need. Also like I said earlier, avoid the use of so-called ‘canker powders’ sold over shop counters, as some of these preparations may be ineffective, merely clogging the ears.
SCRATCHED OR FLY BITTEN EARS
Cuts, scratches and fly bites can injure the flap so that it becomes scabby and perhaps infected. A gentle soap-and-water cleansing will remove the crusts, after which a light dusting with antiseptic powder will soothe the irritation.
For fly bitten ear tips, you might try bathing the flaps with the following:
– Oil of cloves, 3 parts
– Bay oil, 5 parts
– Tincture of eucalyptus, 5 parts
– Alcohol, 15 parts
– Water, 200 parts.