As any Poodle owner can tell you, grooming is no easy task. Getting those curls in perfect show condition requires plenty of time, effort, and energy.
With so much hair to worry about during grooming sessions, it can be easy to overlook the nitty-gritty details. Cleaning your Poodle’s ears is a vital part of grooming your dog, as the breed is prone to hair and wax buildup. Over time this can lead to discomfort, damage, and even infection.
Clean ears are a crucial part of any grooming regimen, especially for hairier breeds such as Poodles. Here, I’m going to tell you how to clean Poodle ears and keep your pup healthy, happy, and comfortable.
All About Poodle Ears
Poodles have drop ears, also known as pendant ears. They hang down in large, loose flaps over the ear canal. While this protects the complex, twisted opening underneath, it also encourages debris to get trapped inside.
All Poodle varieties have this ear type, including toy, mini, and standard breeds. Most have long, soft hair covering their ear flaps. This fur is often straighter and finer than the curls on their bodies.
The interior of a Poodle’s ear is also incredibly hairy. Long, wiry hairs under the ear flap and inside the canal help to protect the ear and keep it moist. However, when allowed to grow unchecked, this hair can do more harm than good. Long, thick fur inside the ears can prevent healthy airflow, trap moisture, and encourage bacterial growth.
Poodles need help from their owner to keep their ears clean and healthy. Without regular maintenance, hair and wax buildup can make it challenging for your dog to hear. It also increases the chance of your dog getting a dangerous or even deadly ear infection.
The Dangers of Unclean Ears
Without regular cleaning, a Poodle’s ears may become blocked. Hair can grow too thick to hear, and wax buildup can obstruct or even seal the ear canal. Not only does this make training difficult for both of you, but it can cause itching and discomfort that manifests as unwanted behaviors.
However, the most significant danger of unclean ears is not temporary hearing loss. When wax and hair build, it creates a warm, moist environment where germs can thrive. Dirty ears are much more likely to harbor viruses, bacteria, and parasites that lead to infection.
The best way to prevent ear infections in Poodles is through proper grooming. Knowing how to clean Poodle ears can spare you both a lot of pain and frustration down the road. It can also help you to avoid racking up some hefty veterinary bills.
Signs of an Ear Infection
If your dog has an ear infection, one of the most obvious signs is inflammation, irritation, and discharge at the site. You may also notice a foul odor coming from your Poodle’s ears.
Some signs of infection are less noticeable. If you notice your dog scratching, rubbing, or shaking its head, this could be a sign of itchiness and discomfort. Dogs experiencing ear issues may also have problems with balance and equilibrium.
A common sign many owners miss is abnormal eye movement back and forth across the field of vision. This symptom can indicate a dog is feeling dizzy and may point to a middle or inner ear infection.
Treating Ear Infections
In some cases, simply cleaning your Poodle’s ears will be enough to get rid of an infection. Without warm, wet conditions, germs populations can’t grow and thrive.
More advanced infections may require medical intervention. If your Poodle still seems uncomfortable after an ear cleaning, you should take them for a vet exam. The vet may flush their ear canal out to remove infectious agents or prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection.
How To Clean Poodle Ears
You should regularly check your dog’s ears to ensure no hair or wax is building. It’s a good idea to look at least once per week. Check that there are no visible blockages, discharge, or unpleasant odors coming from your Poodle’s ears.
Most Poodles need wax removed once per week or once every other week. Dogs that produce more wax may need more frequent cleanings. In most cases, you’ll only need to remove excess hair once every two to four weeks.
Remove Excess Hair
Poodles tend to have very hairy ear canals. You need to reach in and remove hair by hand as often as necessary to keep their ears clean, clear, and dry.
You’ll need to pluck hairs out from the root to remove excess fur. Doing so removes the entire hair, slowing regrowth and thinning out strands growing inside the ear. While the hair will eventually grow back, it can take six weeks or longer for a dog’s fur to thicken.
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The best tool for plucking ear hairs is a dedicated hemostat. These look like a small pair of scissors with blunt, textured tips for easier gripping. The best-sized hemostat for your grooming sessions will depend on your pup’s size.
Toy and Miniature Poodles don’t need a tool much larger than 5.5 inches, whereas a standard Poodle may need something up to 8 inches.
It’s best to opt for a high-quality, stainless steel hemostat. This type of material won’t rust, and it’s easy to sanitize after your grooming sessions with a quick wipedown.
You can use a hemostat to grab unwanted hairs and gently pull them out by the roots. You may want to powder your dog’s ears beforehand for a better grip and easier removal. You can find safe, non-irritating ear powders at your local pet store or shop online.
To remove excess hair, gently fold back the ear flap for easy access to the canal. Grip only a small bundle of strands at a time and remove with a quick, smooth pull. Doing this will cause your dog the least amount of discomfort. Try to pull out hairs close to the surface, as digging too deep may damage the inner ear.
Some owners choose to pluck excess hairs using their fingers rather than a specialized tool. Most experts recommend against this, as precision hair removal is much more difficult with fingers than with hemostat tips. You’re more likely to tear hairs than pull from the root, and you may even cause your pup pain.
While it can be tempting to simply trim excess ear hair, this will not unblock ears as effectively. Instead of thinning the hair, you drive it towards the back of the canal. What’s more, trimmed hair may grow back thicker and denser, causing even more ear issues for your Poodle.
Get Rid of Wax Buildup
Removing excess ear hair is only part of the equation when grooming your Poodle. Many breeds with drop ears produce large amounts of earwax. While a small amount of wax is necessary for healthy ears, too much can affect hearing, trap debris, and encourage germ growth.
You should clean out wax buildup from your pup’s ears to prevent infection. To do this, you’ll need a dedicated ear cleaning solution, preferably from a vet-trusted brand. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian to recommend a cleaning solution that will work for both you and your Poodle.
- Non-irritating solution
- Use during routine cleansing of sensitive ears
- Removes debris and excessive wax and dries the ear canal.
- Recommended for pets with chronic otitis externa which is chronic inflammation of a dogs external ear canal.
- It has a low pH, so it shouldn't interfere with other ear preparations.
Liquid ear cleaners often work better than wipes, as they can reach the entire ear canal. Always read the label to ensure the cleaner doesn’t contain any harsh or toxic ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. While these might be effective disinfectants, they can also cause inflammation and irritation around sensitive areas such as the ear.
You should apply a liquid ear cleaning solution using a small dropper head. Try to distribute the solution evenly around the ear canal. You can use a cotton ball to plug the ear and ensure the solution flows into the ear.
Allow the cleaning solution to work for around a minute, massaging around the ear to help with distribution. The cleaner should remove and catch debris such as ear wax, leaving the canal clean and clear. Make sure to wipe away any excess fluid with a cotton ball afterward.
Sometimes, it takes more than one try to remove all wax and other debris from your Poodle’s ears. If you notice they still smell after cleaning or if your pup shows signs of discomfort, you may want to repeat your cleaning procedure.
Never clean wax from your dog’s ears using water, even if it is filtered. Water can easily get trapped in the ear canal, leading the way for bacteria, parasites, and even yeast populations. Cleaning solutions are inhospitable to germs and will help to discourage ear infections.
Poodles can be more prone to hair and wax buildup with their big, floppy ears than other dogs. Without proper ear care, your Poodle may suffer from issues ranging from pain and discomfort to infection and hearing loss.
Knowing how to clean Poodle ears is an essential part of any grooming regimen. You should regularly remove hair, wax, and other debris from your Poodle’s ears to keep them happy and healthy.