Bath time is an excellent opportunity for ear cleaning, but it should not be the only time for this task. Unlike a human’s, the dog ear canal is L-shaped, creating a moist environment that is both difficult to properly clean and especially susceptible to infection.
Ear problems are uncommon in Chihuahuas due to their pricked ears that provide excellent airflow, but in order to keep your dog’s ear clean and healthy, they should be cleaned on a weekly basis. Regular cleaning will help prevent ear mites and infection. Preventing your dog’s ear problems is much easier than treating them.
Ear cleaning solutions can be purchased at your pet supply store or from your veterinarian. Ear cleaning wipes are also available. You may also make your own solution – a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water. Beware of recipes including either hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol. Veterinarians discourage the use of these ingredients, as peroxide has been proven to actually eat away at the ear tissue, and even diluted alcohol can burn if merely a slight infection is present.
Squirt several drops of solution into your Chihuahua’s ear. Massage the ear downward for about 30 seconds, allowing the cleaner to penetrate any greasy dirt. Your dog will likely want to shake his head at this point. This is actually a good thing, as it will help loosen dirt. Next, using a cotton ball, wipe the ear from the inside out, being careful not to reach beyond the 90 degree turn that marks the end of the external ear canal and beginning of the inner ear.
Potential ear problems
You will first want to visually inspect your Chihuahua’s ears before starting the cleaning process. Healthy ears should be a pinkish color on the inside and free of any discharge. Next, smell the ear; it should not smell foul or strong in any way. Other symptoms of ear problems include shaking of the head or leaning to one side, pawing at the ears, swelling, redness, and sensitivity to touch.
If you discover anything out of the ordinary, don’t clean the ears yourself, instead schedule an appointment with your Chihuahua’s veterinarian. Resist the urge to clean away any discharge, as swabbing this area may be helpful to the vet in determining the cause of the problem.
Remember, ear mites and infections cannot be successfully treated without the help of a veterinarian. Although you can flush the ear, this will not kill the mites or cure an infection. If such a problem does exist, cleaning the ear can also irritate the skin that is likely already tender and sore. To many cleanings, even when no problem is present, can cause irritation to the ear lining.
You might be surprised to learn that hair can grow in your Chihuahua’s ear canal. You may shave or clip out this hair, as this will help keep dirt and wax from building up. Don’t pull the hair. In addition to being painful, pulling can cause tiny wounds that serve as a gateway to bacteria and harmful pathogens. If hair does need to be extracted, a veterinarian should do it.