Ear Cleaning and Medicating

Written on December 16, 2010 by Staff Veterinarian

Ear Cleaning

  • Grasp the flap of the ear and gently pull it straight up and slightly away from the head towards you to open the ear canal.
  • Fill the ear with the prescribed cleanser until the liquid starts to spill out of the ear canal.  Some of this cleaning liquid may also be rubbed on the ear flap if necessary.
  • Grasp the ear cartilage at the base of the ear and gently squeeze or massage the ear canal. You will hear the medication “squish” in the ear. Continue with the massage for a few seconds.
  • Restrain your pet for a few minutes to allow the cleaning solution to penetrate to the deeper ear canal and to dissolve the wax and debris.
  • You can continue to massage the medication at this time intermittently.
  • After that allow your pet to shake the cleaning solution from the ear.
  • Remove loose debris from the ear flap and entrance to the ear canals with a dry cotton ball or gauze pad.
  • Never push cotton swabs into the ear canal! This can force debris further into the ear.
  • Only use the swabs to clean debris from those areas of the ear that you can clearly see.
  • Repeat the cleaning procedure as prescribed by your doctor in the discharge orders.
  • Ear medication should be placed in the ear after the cleaning process, not before. You should apply the medications at least 30 minutes after cleaning.
  • Please ensure that your pet has stopped shaking his head vigorously prior to applying medications.

Medication Application

  • Apply all medications as prescribed on your discharge orders.  The orders will outline number of drops, which ear or ears, how many times a day, and for how long:
  • Place the first medication in the ear.
  • Massage the ear canals as outlined above for the cleaning procedure.  If you have enough medication in the ear, you will begin to hear a ‘squishing’ noise as you massage.
  • If a second medication has been prescribed, it should be applied 30-60 minutes after the first medication unless otherwise directed.
  • If the inner part of the ear flap is involved, place a small amount of the prescribed medication on the affected part of the flap with your finger forming a thin layer.  You should wear gloves while applying it or wash your hands immediately afterwards.
  • If medication/debris is noted to accumulate on the flap of the ear, it can be washed away with shampoo. Prior to shampooing, the opening to the ear canal should be plugged with cotton balls to prevent water from getting into the ear canals. Ensure all cotton balls are removed post shampoo.

*Note: Allergic reactions to ear medication can occur. Signs of an allergic reaction include excessive redness, blisters, or sores around the ear canal opening, inner ear flap, or base of the ear. If any of these signs are noted or if your pet seems overly irritated or in pain when applying medication, please discontinue all ear medication and contact us immediately.

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