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EAR CARE

   Cockers are easily recognized by their long, flowing ears.  Unfortunately, these beautiful ears can be a hot bed of infection and pain for your dog if not properly cared for.  In this article, I will give you information on basic ear care and cleaning to help you keep your Cocker’s ears healthy.  I have also included information on how to recognize if your dog has an ear problem, causes of ear problems, possible treatment options if you should find an ear problem and some simple homemade options for prevention, cleaning and care.  

   Please remember that I am not a vet and this article is based strictly on my own observations, experience and knowledge from dealing with my own dogs.  This article is by no means a complete listing of all problems, treatments or medical options and you should always check with your own veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment if your dog has an ear problem.

Click on one of the following links to go to each topic or just scroll down to read all of the information.

Prevention Ear Cleaning Nutrition
CAUSES of EAR DISEASE Signs of Ear Disease Diagnosing Ear Disease
Treatment of Ear Disease Applying Medication Home Remedies
  Blue Power Ear Treatment Making A Snood
Ear Care Print Page Blue Power Print Page Making Snoods Print Page

PREVENTION

   The key to keeping Cocker ears healthy is to keep them clean. Unfortunately, the basic physical conformation of the Cocker ear (somewhat narrow ear canal with excessive hair around the opening and ears that hang down over the opening) means that you will have to do some work to help prevent problems from developing. This isn’t really all that hard to do, it just means that you will need to stay on top of basic hygiene and do some regular preventive maintenance will help ensure that your Cocker’s ears stay healthy.  

   The first step in ensuring your Cocker's ears stay healthy is a regular cleaning and hygiene schedule.   This schedule should include brushing, bathing, grooming and ear cleaning.  Regular brushing and bathing will help keep your dog’s ears trouble free by keeping the hair on the bottom of the ears free of mats and accumulations of food and debris.   Regular bathing will also help ensure your dog's skin (all over) is clean and healthy.  Healthy skin is critical in preventing ear infections.   Most Cockers will need to be bathed every week or every other week, so ear cleaning can be incorporated into your regular bathing schedule.   Routine ear cleaning should be done once a week.  I usually do this regular cleaning after the dog’s bath.  Ear cleaners should be slightly acidic but should NOT sting, so your dog shouldn't fuss overly about having this done once he gets used to the routine.

   By cleaning the ears after bathing, you will be sure to dry out any excess moisture left in the ear canals.   This is important as excess moisture being left in the ears can lead to infections.  Cleaning the ears after bathing will also be helpful if you need to treat an ear problem.  Medication should only be applied to clean ears that are free of dirt and debris, so you can immediately treat your dog's ears after he is bathed and the ears are cleaned.  Be sure to use a good ear cleaner after each bath to remove any excess moisture.  Or, if you don't need to treat the ears, an ear drying powder can be used in the ears after bathing.  Be sure to do this after your dog goes swimming too. 

   If your dog is in the water a lot or has a history of ear disease, you may need to clean his ears more than once a week.   No matter how often your dog's ears have to be cleaned, these cleanings are a perfect opportunity for you to check your Cocker’s ears for signs of infection, parasites or inflammation.  While it’s normal for most dogs to have a small amount of waxy buildup, excess wax and moisture that gets trapped in the ear canal can lead to yeast and/or bacterial ear infections. 

   In addition to routine bathing and ear cleaning, keeping excess hair around the ear canal clipped short is a must.  Regular clipping of the hair on the inside of the ear, around the ear canal, will help minimize moisture accumulation by improving air flow into the ear canal.  Clipping of the hair around the ear canal is easily accomplished by keeping the dog groomed in a regular "Cocker Cut".   Regular grooming should be done every 4-8 weeks.   For dogs with ear problems, it may be advisable to remove additional hair from the inside of the ear leather or even to trim the length of the ears overall.  Removing additional hair can help keep the ears drier and can increase airflow into the ear canal by decreasing the weight of hair that pulls the ear down.

   To assist in keeping the ears clean and dry, you can use a “snood” at mealtimes to keep your dog’s ears out of food and water bowls.  A snood is merely a tube of material with elastic at each end.  It slides over the dog’s head, the ears are tucked into the tube and this holds the ears out of the way and helps keep then clean.  You can purchase snoods from a pet catalog, pet shop or at dog shows for $10-$20.   They’re also quite simple and inexpensive to make.  (I've included instructions for how to make them at the end of this article.) 

   Another option for helping you keep your Cocker's ears clean and dry are special bowls designed for long-eared dogs.  These bowls usually have a wide base that narrows at the top, they are taller than normal food and water dishes and are designed to allow long ears to fall to the side of the dish rather than into the dish. 

BASIC EAR CLEANING

   A dog’s ear has more of an L-shaped canal than a straight canal.  This means that there is a corner that tends to collect debris.  To remove this collection of debris, you will need to fill the ear canal with a good ear cleaner (Top Performance Ear Cleaner or try the recipe I’ve included in this article) and gently massage the base of the ear for 20-30 seconds.   This will soften and release the debris which you can then wipe out with a cotton ball and/or Q-tip.  You need to repeat this procedure until there is no more debris coming out of the ear.   Q-tips should only be used on the parts of the ear canal that you can see.  Trying to clean deeper into the ear is more likely to pack the debris down in the ear than to remove it.

   For initial cleaning when dealing with an ear problem, or if I think the ears are so dirty that they are going to require repeated cleanings, I prefer to do this procedure in the bath so that I can really clean the entire ear and head area.   Many people are afraid to get shampoo and water in the dog's ears, but it's imperative that you keep the ears clean inside and out.  This means that you must shampoo and rinse the side of head and the inside and outside of the ear thoroughly.  It's OK if you get shampoo and water in the ears as you are going to clean the ears out (thus drying any water left over) after you finish the dog's bath.   The one thing to remember is that you DO need to rinse and remove ALL shampoo residue from the ear canal and the inside of the ear.   After this initial deep cleaning, you should be able to keep the ear canal clean with a “normal” cleaning before applying any necessary medication. 

   If your dog has sore ears due to an ear problem, you may find that he gets extremely unhappy about having his ears cleaned.  Taking your time and talking to him while you work on the ears or stopping to praise him for good behavior can help keep him calm.  However, don’t baby the dog that just doesn’t like the procedure or doesn’t want to stand still.  Be firm and insist on being allowed to work on the dog’s ears.  DON’T reward a dog that fights by quitting!  Be sure and reward your dog with a special treat after you get done. 

   If your dog has had a long-term ear problem, has very sensitive ears or just has a really bad attitude about letting you clean his ears, it may be necessary to have your vet anesthetize the dog and clean the ears for you.  

NUTRITION

   Next, let’s address the impact of nutrition on your Cocker’s ears.  This is a major consideration if your dog is having ear problems (or any skin problem) and should be one of the first issues discussed when looking for a solution to on-going, skin-related medical conditions.  Keeping your Cocker on a high quality food can help your dog avoid dry, flaky skin, allergies, ear infections and many other medical problems. 

   I recommend using Eukanuba’s Regular or Small Breed (puppy or adult) formulas or their Performance formula OR Purina Pro Plan Chicken and Rice (puppy or adult) or their Performance formula.  These are the ONLY foods I recommend on a regular basis.  I do not recommend any other formulas (lamb, beef, etc.) or any other brands.   If your dog is having an on-going skin problem or you prefer an all-natural food, another acceptable food option is a product called Solid Gold Hund-N-Flokken adult and Hundchen Flocken Puppy foods.    I do not recommend adding dietary supplements as a general rule, but if you feel your dog's skin and coat could use a boost and you are already feeding one of my recommended foods, there are 2 products that I do feel can be beneficial.  These are The Missing Link and Solid Gold Seameal w/Flaxseed Meal.  I strongly recommend using the Solid Gold supplement if you choose to feed the Solid Gold diet. 

   PLEASE do not get talked into using Science Diet for your new Cocker!  I have found that my Cockers DO NOT do well on this food.   These dogs carry such heavy coats that they MUST be maintained on a quality food, high in protein and fatty acids, or their skin and coat will suffer.  Science Diet does not seem to fill these requirements for my dogs.   I have had to work with several new owners to over come health problems that developed when they were convinced to feed Science Diet to their dogs. 

   There are other high quality commercial brands of food on the market, and it's possible your Cocker will do fine on one of these other foods, but I have had great luck with the foods I've listed above.  I know a lot of people are interested in home-made or all-natural food choices, and sometimes this is the best choice for dogs that are sensitive to certain ingredients commonly found in commercial dog foods.  HOWEVER, I caution anyone pursuing this type of alternative feeding program to investigate and learn all they can.  It's very important that YOU have an understanding of canine nutritional needs before you jump into feeding a home-made diet.  This means that you have to investigate canine nutrition on the web, in books and with your breeder and veterinarian.  The proper balance of ingredients, vitamins and minerals is crucial to the health of your dog.  This proper balance can be tricky to achieve and if your dog receives too much or too little of certain ingredients, he could suffer serious health consequences and possibly death.   So please, use caution in your approach to alternative feeding  choices.   

COMMON CAUSES OF EAR DISEASE

   “Ear disease” is not a diagnosis of a specific ear problem.  Instead, it’s kind of a generic phrase for a number of conditions.  These conditions sometimes appear individually, or they can be linked, with one problem leading to another and another. 

  • ALLERGIES:

May be related to food, but can also be environmental.  An ear problem may actually be the first noticeable sign of an allergy.  If your dog has recurring ear or skin problems, unrelated to other issues, your dog may have an allergy problem.

  • PARASITES:

Ear mites, fleas and ticks can cause severe skin irritations that lead to the dog scratching the ear raw.   This trauma to the ear can then lead to infections that must be treated in addition to the parasite infestation.  Parasites can be hard to identify on the dog, but can sometimes be spotted during regular brushing and grooming sessions.

  1. EAR MITES are almost invisible to the naked eye.  They leave waxy, dark, crumbly debris (resembles coffee grounds) in the ear canal.  It's sometimes possible to see the mites if you use a Q-tip to remove some of the ear debris and then wipe it on a dark colored surface.  The mites will appear as small white dots that move around. 

  2. TICKS come in several types, sizes and colors and will vary by geographic location.   Baby ticks can be smaller than the head of a pin and large, engorged ticks may be as big as your fingernail. 

  3. FLEAS may be a little harder to identify as they are quite small and move quickly.  Look for small black specs, like black sand, in the hair around the bottoms of ears and along the back, especially around the base of the tail.  This flea “debris” is a sure sign your dog has fleas even if you don’t actually see the little devils on the dog. 

  4. FLIES can cause considerable ear damage if they find a minor cut or hot-spot to feed on or if they are attracted by the smell of an ear infection.  If flies begin to bite, a minor ear problem can quickly escalate to a major issue.  Fly bites encourage ear scratching, which combined with existing irritation, can lead to open sores and possible bleeding.  This will attract more flies, which sets up a cycle of self-mutilation and parasite damage. 

  5. INTESTINAL PARASITES (worms) can also cause skin irritations that can result in ear problems.  Intestinal worms can sometimes be seen in the dog’s stool, but more often require a fecal exam at the vet’s to verify an infestation.  Unfortunately, fecal exams are not always 100% reliable, so it may require more than one exam to verify if your dog has worms.

  • FOREIGN BODIES:

Foreign bodies in the ear canal or that get caught in the hair of the ear can also irritate the dog to the point that he traumatizes the ear and opens the door to infection.  Grass seeds, stick-tights, cockleburs, thorns and other outdoor debris can cause severe irritation to the ear.   If your dog has access to areas of high weeds or is taken to the lake or woods, be sure to brush out his fur and check his ears carefully, inside and out.

  • HORMONE ISSUES:

Hormone fluctuations and abnormalities (deficiencies or excesses) can result in skin and/or ear problems.  Thyroid and sex hormones influence the health of the skin as does adrenal gland function.  Hormone abnormalities can generally be pinpointed with blood tests.

  • DISEASE:

Certain rare hereditary diseases and various tumors (squamous cell carcinomas, melanomas, etc.) may result in ear disease. Tumors and other conditions may require a biopsy or other surgical procedure to pinpoint a diagnosis of a specific problem.

  • INFECTIONS:

BACTERIA and YEAST organisms are the major culprits in ear infections.  They have a perfect environment in the warm, dark, moist ear canal.  An average, healthy ear has a certain level of these organisms and is normally able to defend itself from “attack”.  Unfortunately, the balance of healthy/unhealthy organisms can be upset if excess moisture or wax is allowed to build up in the ear canals.  Other changes in the ear environment (allergies, trauma, etc.) can also allow the "normal" bacteria and yeast to multiply unchecked and over-run the ears natural defenses.  This is how dogs get “ear infections”. 

  1. With a bacterial ear infection the ear canal may appear irritated and swollen and there may be a yellowish, creamy or whitish colored, moist discharge with an offensive odor.  

  2.   Yeast infections can also cause the ear to look inflamed and have an unpleasant odor but the discharge with this type of infection is a medium to dark brown or pinkish-brown color.

   Since changes in the ear environment from some of the problems listed above can lead to bacterial or yeast infections, you need to realize that these infections are secondary to the main issue and treatment must include care for the underlying problem or you will begin a never ending cycle of treatment that only treats the symptoms of ear disease and never the cause.

SIGNS OF EAR DISEASE

   While playing or spending time with your dog, you will want to watch for signs of ear discomfort, which are outlined below.  These behaviors can be the first indication that your dog has or is developing an ear problem.  Also, during your weekly ear evaluations and cleaning, you will be looking for visual signs that can indicate an ear problem.  Signs of ear disease can include:

  1. Unpleasant Odor.

  2. Consistent scratching of ears and/or rubbing of the head.

  3. Shaking the head or tilting it to one side.

  4. Pain when you handle the head or around the ears.

  5. Unusual quantity or consistency of discharge in the ears.

  6. Redness or swelling of the ear canal or ear leather.

  7. Sudden changes in behavior – the dog seems depressed, lethargic or irritable. 

DIAGNOSING AN EAR PROBLEM

   The first step in diagnosing any ear problem is to exam the ear for signs of the problems listed above.   If your dog is showing one or more of the symptoms described above, the next step is to get in touch with your veterinarian and start treatment right away.  The longer you wait, the greater the risk that your dog could develop a more serious problem and the more discomfort he will have to endure.   Remember that ear infections of the canal, if severe, can spread to the middle and inner ear.  Prompt attention to the problem is always best.  It’s also important to have an initial vet exam to be sure that your dog’s ear drum does not have a hole in it.  If this membrane is not whole, cleaners can penetrate to the inner ear and could actually make your dog’s ear problems worse.

   When you take the dog to your veterinarian, he or she will use an otoscope to see down into the ear canal.  This will help determine the amount of inflammation, the condition of the ear drum and can help in locating any foreign bodies, parasites, tumors or other contributing factors of the problem.  The vet may also take swabs of the ear canal to smear on a microscope slide and examine for bacteria, yeast or mites.   In addition, the vet will take the dog’s history and do a physical exam to help determine if there are hormonal, allergic or hereditary problems.  If one of these is suspected, further testing may be needed. 

TREATMENT OF EAR DISEASE

   Your dog’s ear treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the ear problem and what, if any, secondary conditions are present.   Your dog may need only one medication or it may require a combination of items.  

  • ALLERGIES:

    Allergens must be identified individually and possible culprits must be isolated and removed from you’re dog’s diet or environment.  In addition, you must treat the existing allergic reactions (skin and ear infections) to relieve the dog’s discomfort.  For in-depth information on allergies, click on the following link to go to my  ALLERGIES  page.

  • PARASITES:

    Parasites must be killed on the pet and in the environment before you can successfully treat ear problems associated with infestation.  Successful parasite treatment may take repeated treatments of your home, yard and pet with dips, sprays, foggers, parasite preventatives, etc.   Ear infections associated with parasite infestation will have to be treated in conjunction with the parasites, but may not be completely resolved until the parasite infestation has been permanently brought under control. 

    • Information on resolving flea and tick issues is covered in my Fleas & Ticks article.  Please click on the preceding link for further information on this issue.

    • The treatment for ear mites is covered on my EAR MITE page. 

    • The treatment for intestinal parasites (worms) is covered on my WORMS page.

    • To prevent fly bites, keep ears clean, promptly clean and treat any ear injury and use fly repellent on the dog as necessary.  For existing fly bites, clean sores with peroxide or other skin disinfectant/anti-microbial cleanser.  Treat sores with antibiotic/medicated ointment or cream.  Antihistamines, steroids and/or topical pain medication may be needed for itching, inflammation and discomfort. 

      Most human skin products will work for treating your dog's skin, so check your medicine cabinet for supplies.  
      To repel flies on the dog, try Avon Skin So Soft Lotion or Oil.  This works pretty well as an insect repellent for humans too. Mix 1 part Avon SSS oil to 9 parts water or to a water based skin lotion.  If you don't mind the greasy feel, you can apply the oil full strength. If your prefer, you can simply use the Avon SSS Lotion which comes ready to apply.  For serious biting insect problems or to cover open sores, use SWAT fly repellent.  This product can be a problem in the house as it's a heavy, greasy, paint on ointment, but it will keep biting pests from causing further irritation. 

      Getting rid of flies in the dog's environment is key to preventing and treating fly bites.  Keep the yard pooper-scooped, dispose of trash promptly in tightly sealed containers and use fly traps and/or bait to reduce fly populations. 

  • BACTERIAL INFECTIONS:

    Bacterial ear infections must be treated with an antibiotic.  If there is significant inflammation in the ear, an anti-inflammatory medication may also be needed.  It's often advisable to have a bacterial culture done while at the vet's office as the type of bacteria responsible for ear infections can vary.  If your vet does not do a bacterial culture and doesn't correctly guess the right antibiotic to prescribe, then your dog's ear infection will not clear up and the treatment will be wasted.   You will then have to take the dog back in to the vet clinic to get a different antibiotic and you will have to treat the dog again.  The following medications are some of the options that your vet may feel are appropriate for treating a bacterial ear infection:

    •  Baytril/Orbax - Pseudomonas, Staphylococci

    •  Silvadene (silver sulfadiazine) wound creme can be helpful in healing skin damage in the ears and there are several bacteria (including Pseudomonas) that are sensitive to this product.   For ear treatment, the creme should be mixed with water for an easy-to-use liquid treatment.  The creme form of this product is great for burns and other serious skin issues.

  • YEAST INFECTIONS:

Yeast infections must be treated with an antifungal medication.  Daily cleaning of the ears will help control irritation, odor and debris, but these infections can be very difficult to conquer.  To help your dog avoid yeast infections, be sure that his ears are cleaned out and a drying solution is applied after he is bathed or allowed to swim.  You can purchase an ear drying powder or cleaner at your local pet store or vet clinic or I have included the formula for some home-made solutions near the end of this article. 

Veterinary treatment may include the use of oral Nizoral therapy, Otomax ointment for topical ear treatment (may also be used for bacterial infections) and/or special acetic acid wipes or ear wash (such as Derma-Pet Ear/Skin Cleanser).

  • HORMONE ABNORMALITIES:

Hormone issues may require additional testing and treatment may include hormone replacement therapy.

  • TUMORS:

Tumors may have to be surgically removed. 

  • CHRONIC EAR DISEASE:

Chronic ear conditions or recurrent ear problems often require life-long management rather than cure.  Some dogs may require surgical treatments to open the ear canal if they have suffered from long-standing or recurrent ear infections.  A build-up of scar tissue from long-term ear infections may cause thickened ear canals.  This excess tissue can eventually calcify and harden like bone.  This thickening of the ear canal and hardening of the ear tissue further decreases the ear's ability to defend itself from infection.  Air circulation is decreased and wax build up increases, while treatment of the ear problem becomes difficult, if not impossible.  At this point, surgery may be necessary to allow access to the lower portion of the ear canal.

   Treating ear problems early and aggressively can keep you from facing some of the above  problems.  Preventive maintenance, regular grooming and good ear hygiene can also minimize your dog’s risk of long-term problems.  Keep in mind that if your vet doesn’t seem to be making headway with the underlying cause of your dog’s ear problem and seems more focused on treating the symptoms, you may need to seek help elsewhere.  

APPLYING MEDICATION

   Be sure your dog’s ears are completely clean before applying any medicine.  After you clean the ear, let your dog shake his head and wait about 15 minutes to give the ears time to dry. Then apply the prescribed ear medication as instructed.  Be sure that you keep the tip of all medication applicators away from the skin as you don't want to contaminate the container.  If you’re treating an ear problem, you may have to clean the ears twice a day at the beginning of the treatment so that you’re sure the medication is able to penetrate to all of the affected areas down in the ear. 

HOME REMEDIES AND TREATMENTS

   In this section I’m going to give you information on home-made ear cleaning products and ear treatments that you may find useful.  Most ingredients or products can be found at your local pharmacy but some may require a trip to the health food store or a shopping excursion on the internet.  Depending on the health of your dog's ears, these solutions may be helpful in keeping your dog's ears clean and infection free.  This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only, not as a substitute for veterinary care!  If you choose to use this information to treat your dog, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!   While these treatments and suggestions may have proven useful for me or others that I know, there is no guarantee that they will solve a problem for your dog.  You should always seek veterinary advice when treating your dog.  Additionally, some dogs may have sensitivities to specific products, so check a small area for reactions before using new products.

  • VINEGAR:

Many vets and breeders recommend using a white vinegar (acetic acid) solution for cleaning and treating ears, especially when dealing with yeast infections.  These vinegar solutions can be used to help remove dirt and debris and to help restore the ear environment to the correct chemical balance.  Over the years I've found a number of different suggestions for vinegar solutions, so you might need to experiment to see what works best for your dog. These combinations can be used twice a day for treating an infection or weekly as a routine cleaning solution. 

  1. Diluted Vinegar - Mix 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar with one cup warm water OR mix 3/4 cup of white vinegar with 1/4 cup water OR mix one part white vinegar with one part water (half water, half white vinegar)

  2. Vinegar/Alcohol - Mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar 

  3. Vinegar/Witch Hazel - Mix 3 parts apple cider vinegar or white vinegar with 1 part witch hazel. 

  4. Vinegar/Domeboro Solution - Combine 1 package Domeboro powder, 3 oz white vinegar, 1 oz alcohol and 11 oz sterile water

  5. Vinegar/Boric Acid - Combine 4 tablespoons white vinegar, 4 tablespoons boric acid powder and 16 oz Vodka
  • FUNGICIDE:

Yeast infections can be difficult to conquer and may require treatment with a fungicide.  Antibiotics will not get rid of a yeast infection.  There are several over-the-counter human medications that people have reportedly used to help treat yeast infections:

  1. A number of people claim to have used Massengil Medicated Douche as a successful treatment for yeasty ears.   Use as an ear wash 2-3 times a week. 

  2. Vaginal yeast infection cream is also said to be effective for treating some forms of yeast driven ear infections.  Squeeze about an half an inch of cream into clean ears and massage down into the canal.  Wipe away excess with a cotton ball.  Use daily for 2-3 weeks.

  3. Selsun Blue Shampoo will kill yeast organisms but must remain in contact with the skin for 10-15 minutes.

  • EAR WASH/TREATMENT RECIPES:

  1. Combine 15 ml Glycerine, 15 ml sterile water, 6 drops tea tree oil.  Fill ear canal, massage base of ear to work debris loose, rinse well with warm water.

  2. Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide with equal parts warm water.  Use to clean and remove debris from ears.

  3. Combine 1 drop tea tree oil, 1 drop lavender oil, 1 drop chamomile oil, 1 teaspoon warm olive oil.   Apply 4-6 drops in each ear with an eye dropper.  Massage the ear for a couple of minutes and then wipe away excess solution and debris with cotton ball and/or Q-tips until clean.  Must be discarded and mixed daily.

  4. Wax removal:  Combine 25 ml Olive Oil, 400IU Vitamin E and 10ml Almond Oil -  warm mix in a bowl of hot water before use.  With eye dropper, soak into ear canal.  Massage base of ear to loosen wax build-up.  Allow the dog to shake his head and use cotton ball and/or Q-tips to remove excess solution and debris.  Use daily until wax discharge is dissolved and removed.

  • EAR POWDER:

  1. The following ear powder recipe works well to kill anaerobic bacteria and fungi in the ears.  The zinc oxide and boric acid help keep the ear dry and this helps prevent recurring infections.   Can be used as a treatment for existing infection or as a step in a preventive maintenance routine. 

    • 4 oz. zinc oxide powder

    • 4 oz. boric acid powder

    • 1/2 oz. Iodoform powder

    • Mix in a small, sealable jar.  Store in a cool, dry place.

    General directions for use:

    Drop a large pinch of powder into clean ears.  Using your finger and massage, work the powder down into the canal.  Let the dog shake out any excess powder, but leave the remaining powder in the ears.  Repeat weekly after regular ear cleaning.

    Treating an existing infection:

    Use as described for maintenance, but after 24 hours use a Q-tip to remove powder and debris that has floated up out of the ear canal.  Apply a fresh pinch of powder to each ear after removing debris and work back down into the ears.  Repeat cleaning and application daily for approximately 2 weeks or until there is no further discharge from the ears.   Once obvious discharge has been eliminated, drop treatment to every other day for a week.  If the ears remain dry, reduce treatments to every third day.  After another week, if the ears are still dry, treat on weekly maintenance schedule.

  • PROBIOTICS:

Probiotics can be given orally or used in the ears to help with yeast infections.  A ready-made veterinary oral product is Probias or you can try feeding your dog plain yogurt.  You can also purchase probiotic powder for use in the ears or Acidophilus at the health food store.

BLUE POWER EAR TREATMENT

  This is probably the best-known of all the home-made ear treatments around.  It's been popular with Cocker breeders for quite a number of years.    This can be used in your maintenance ear care routine or as a treatment for ear infections.   I also use it for fungus-type infections between the toes and pads of the feet (or elsewhere on the dog) and for cuts, hot spots and other skin irritations. 

   You should be able to find all of the ingredients at your local Wal-Mart or other drug store.  You will probably have to ask the pharmacist or girl behind the drug counter for the Gentian Violet and Boric Acid as they are not out on the general shelves.  No prescription is required.  Prices listed are from my Wal-Mart in June of 2004.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 16 Oz. bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol (standard 70%)  (2 for $1.00)

  2. 4 Tablespoons of Boric Acid Powder   (4 oz for $3.00)

  3. 16 Drops of Gentian Violet Solution 1%  (1 oz for $2.00)

  4. 6 to 12 oz Plastic “pull-top” Applicator Bottle  ($1.00)

  5. If you have several dogs and would like further savings, you can buy alcohol by the gallon at your local feed store (a place that stocks horse and cattle supplies) and this will assure that you always have enough solution on hand.

   Mix ingredients together in the alcohol bottle and shake well.  You may need to remove a small amount of the alcohol to be sure it will all fit.  Fill applicator bottle with mixed solution.  You can warm the solution by setting the bottle in a cup of warm water if your dog objects to the solution being room temperature.

   Gentian Violet can stain fabric, hands, etc. Since we all know dogs love to shake when fluid gets in their ears, I suggest doing this in old clothing, in the garage, bath or backyard, while wearing disposable gloves!  To avoid the possibility of the dog rubbing his head on the carpet while the ears are still wet, let the dog shake and then dry excess fluid with cotton balls, Q-Tips or an old towel before allowing the dog back in the house.

  • You must SHAKE THE BOTTLE before EVERY application! 

  • For external use only and care should be taken that the solution does not get into the eyes.

   If ears are not overly sore, gently flood the ear canal with solution and clean as described earlier in this article (until there is no more debris being washed out of ear).  If ears are inflamed/sore and the dog is uncooperative, solution can be applied without massage and extra cleaning for a couple of days.  After a few days, the inflammation should be reduced to a point that the dog no longer objects strenuously and you may clean the ears with massage and cotton balls or Q-tips.

  •  Treatment:

    • Depending on severity of problem and condition of ears, treat twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks.

    • Treat once a day for the following 1 to 2 weeks.

    •  For maintenance cleaning and preventive purposes use weekly.

    • Stubborn cases of infection may require 2x the recommended amount of Gentian Violet (32 drops).

    • Failure is generally blamed on not doing the treatment long enough or having not followed the recommended frequency of application.

   Solution should not be painful to the dog, even if the ears are inflamed.  The Boric Acid Powder is supposed to sooth the ear and the Gentian Violet Solution is an anti-infection agent that acts as a bactericide, fungicide, and anthelmintic.  The last means that it is supposed to kill worms.  As the prices listed above demonstrate, this solution is quite inexpensive and easy to keep on hand.

  

CLICK HERE for  PRINTABLE PAGE of Blue Power Ear Treatment

  

CLICK HERE for  PRINTABLE PAGE  of Blue Power Ear Treatment

 

Making A Snood

  To make 2 snoods that will fit a Cocker Spaniel you will need:

  1. 3/8 of a yard of a washable fabric (45" wide).

  2. Approximately 60” of soft 1/4" elastic.

   Begin by stitching a 3/8" sleeve on each of the long ends of the piece of material.  Cut the piece of material in half so that you have two pieces with sleeves on each end.   Measure your dog just behind the ears. Cut 4 pieces of elastic to this length.  Thread a piece of elastic through each of the sleeves on the two pieces of material.  Tack the elastic on each end.    Put wrong sides of fabric together, making a tube.  Seam the edges together, then overcast.   Turn right side out.

   At mealtimes, slide a snood over your dog’s head, leaving the ears tucked into the tube.  One band of elastic will be in front of the ears and the second band will be behind the ears.  This will keep the dog's ears clean, dry and free of food debris.  Your dog may not appreciate the new procedure the first few times he has to wear the snood, but he'll get used to it quickly and go on about eating his meals. 

If you have any questions or would like more information about our Cocker Spaniels,
please
E-MAIL ME.    Thanks,

Cindy

Copyright © Sandcastle Kennels 2004