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Cleaning Kerry Ears

 

© Copyright © 1999 Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Northern California

No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Reprinted with permission from Copyright © Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Northern California.

What you'll need

  • Hemostats or hair pullers
  • Ear Powder
  • Ear Cleaner or Flush
  • Cotton

C-Derm Ear Cleaner & Flush by Vedros Bioscience Laboratories is a natural plant extract product which helps relieve inflammation, prevent growth of bacteria, fungi, and yeast, and is soothing to the lining of the ear. The ear cleanser is designed for flushing and cleaning the ear and not for the treatment of ear infections. The formulation contains extracts of Chondrus, Licorice root, pectin, condensed tannins, and camphor.

Cleaning the Ears

Cleaning the ears begins by lifting the ear, and sniffinginside the ear. Any "off" odor is an indication that trouble lurks within. Other signs of ear infections are violent shaking of the head, pawing or scratching the ears, or becoming head shy ­ shying away from any contact with the head. Clean your Kerries ears on a regular basis to reduce the risk of infection.

According to Delbert G. Carlson DVM and James M. Griffin MD in their book Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, ear disease makes up 20% of a veterinary practice and can include: bacterial infection, fungus and yeast infections, ear mites, or foreign objects (especially foxtails in the Bay Area) in the ear. Common predisposing causes are soap, water, wads of hair, mites, allergies and excess wax in the ears. Serum and blood in the ear canal are excellent bacterial media. Clean dry ears usually stay healthy.

If your puppy or dog is not familiar with grooming, let him/her sniff the cotton balls with ear cleaner, and become comfortable with it, before you begin cleaning their ears.

There are various ear cleaners or flushes on the market. They can be used a general cleaner, by saturating a piece of cotton or rag, and swabbing down the external ear. Be very careful if using Q-tips, and only use around the outer ear.

Flushes are used by filling up the ear canal, massaging the ear canal for a minute or more (you will hear a swishing if you are massaging properly) and removing the excess cleaner and debris with a cotton ball, and/or help from your Kerry shaking his head.

In his book Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats Dr. Pitcairn recommends using sweet almond oil (prunus amydalus) to loosen up and dissolve lodged waxy ear secretions. You'll want to have your dog in a comfortable position, where his/her head can be held securely in place. You'll also want to be a location where if your dog should prematurely shake his head, clean up will be easy; a bathroom or kitchen is ideal. He recommends that you pre-warmed (in a warm water bath) almond oil. Once warm, trickle _ teaspoon of into the ear, using a dropper or squeeze bottle. Let the oil run down the ear canal for a few seconds. Massage the ear canal (below the ear opening) from the outside - it feels like a firm plastic tube that you can compress as you massage. If you are doing it correctly you'll hear a squishing sound. After a minute or more, use a tissue to remove the excess oil and debris that work their way out.

Plucking

Kerries not only need to have their ears cleaned regularly, but need to have the excess hair plucked from the ear canal to allow air circulation and prevent infection.

Ear powder improves gripping qualities for either plucking with fingers or with hemostats. Powder the outer ear and with your fingers pluck any hair from the outer ear. Just the outer ear needs plucking, and not the entire underside of the ear flap, that will be clippered later. After the hair has been plucked from the outer ear, you will need to use a pair of hemostats or hair pullers to remove the hair from the ear canal.

The actual procedure of plucking hair from the ear canal is best learned by hands-on demonstration.

See also the remedies discussed in the Nail Trimming page regarding methods to relax your Kerry.

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