English bulldogs are known for their short, stocky build and their wrinkled skin. The ears of these dogs are typically folded, often in what is termed a "rose ear" shape, in which the fold falls backward or to the side, exposing the middle ear. Otherwise the fold might fall forward in a "button ear" or "drop ear" style. Each of these ear types can trap moisture, leading to infection. Dogs with folded or floppy ears get less airflow to the ear canal, so regular cleaning is important to prevent ear infections.
To prevent minor problems from escalating, check your English bulldog's ears on a weekly basis and clean them when necessary. Your bulldog's ears should be pinkish gray in color and odor-free. If your dog's ears exhibit brown or yellow discharge, excess wax buildup or red, inflamed skin, the dogs ears may be infected. Excessive scratching and head shaking may also point toward ear problems. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, take him to your vet as soon as possible for treatment.
To prevent damaging your English bulldog's inner ear and irritating his skin, you must use the right cleaning product. Never use cotton swabs (commonly referred to by the brand name Q-tips) to clean your bulldog's ears, because they can push debris further into the ear canal and could puncture the ear drum if you aren't careful or if your dog makes a wrong move. The best products to use when cleaning your bulldog's ears are pet cleansers designed for cleaning dog ears. These cleansers are gentle enough that they will not irritate your dog's skin, and they will dry quickly to prevent excess moisture. If you want to be sure your bulldog's ears are fully dry after cleaning, look for an ear-drying powder at your local pet store.
To clean your English bulldog's ears, you will need to first gently lift the ear flap and pull it upward to expose and straighten the ear canal. Next, squeeze a few drops of dog ear cleanser into the ear canal and massage the base of your dog's ear with your fingers to distribute the solution. When applying the cleanser, be careful not to insert the nozzle too far into your dog's ear canal, because you could damage the eardrum. Once you have distributed the cleanser, use a dry cotton ball to wipe away any dirt or debris from inside your dog's ear. When you're finished you may want to use a clean cotton ball to wipe away any residual cleanser so your dog's ears are dry.
Precautions and Prevention
Airflow is the key to maintaining clean, healthy ears on your English bulldog. If your dog has particularly hairy ears, he may be more prone to infection, as the hair will obstruct airflow and cause irritation inside the ear. To combat this problem, try trimming or plucking the hair just inside your bulldog's ears. When bathing your dog, avoid getting his head wet, since excess moisture in the ear can lead to infection. Rather than pouring or spraying water on your dog's head, clean his head and face using a damp cloth.
Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.