While Rover may be scratching his ears, you may be scratching your head as you try to make out the difference between ear cleaners for dogs. A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to identifying ingredients and choosing the best products for your pampered pooch.
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High levels of moisture in the ear canal create the perfect environment for the colonization of bacteria and yeast. If your pooch enjoys swimming or is bathed frequently, or if you live in an area with high humidity, an ear cleaner containing drying agents can help prevent ear infections. Drying agents disperse moisture and aid the evaporation process of water from the ear canal. Alcohol, menthol and chlorothymol are common drying agents added to ear cleaners.
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Is your dog turning a deaf ear lately? If so, perhaps you may want to check his ears for excessive buildup of wax. The purpose of ceruminolytic agents is to help remove earwax and any purulent discharge. Glycerin, propylene glycol and several oils are mild ingredients that help break down earwax. Carbamide peroxide and dioctyl-sodium sulfosuccinate, on the other hand, are considered potent ceruminolytic agents. Peroxide-based products produce a foaming action that further helps break down cerumen (earwax).
Products with antiseptic agents offer you the added bonus of combating organisms responsible for bacterial infections. Antiseptic ear flushes may contain the following antimicrobial agents: chlorhexidine, hypochlorous acid and chloroxylenol. Lactoferrin and lysozyme are two ingredients that have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties and are found in some popular over-the-counter medications.
While you will never see any actual mushrooms growing in your dog's ears, fungal infections are notorious for causing inflamed, itchy ears. Look for an ear cleaner containing griseofulvin, amphotericin B or ketoconazole. A prescription is needed in most cases after your veterinarian obtains a culture swab from the affected ear.
Your dog's ears may host a variety of parasites that should not belong there. Ear mites often leave an unsightly black, gritty residue resembling coffee grounds inside your dog's ear. If you suspect parasites, invest in an ear cleaner with antiparasitic agents. Pyrethrin, rotenone, thiabendazole and the almost unpronounceable piperonyl butoxide are optimal ingredients that will make those pesky parasites move out from your dog's ears for good.
If your dog has an irresistible urge to scratch his ears and you suspect it may be because of allergies, you may be interested in an ear cleaner enriched with glucocorticoid agents. Check the label for products boasting the following ingredients: hydrocortisone, betamethasone, triamcinolone and mometasone. These ingredients are helpful in suppressing the immune response and decreasing the swelling and inflammation in your dog's ears.
When you acidify your dog's ear canal, you make the pH unfavorable for bacterial growth. Several ear cleaners contain acidifying ingredients that are easy to identify because they contain the word "acid." Benzoic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and salicylic acid are a few examples. While some dog owners make their own ear cleanser using a mixture of acetic acid, which is vinegar, and water, veterinarian Ron Hines discourages such practice because of the risk of making the concoction too strong.
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Your dog's ear cleaner may contain several other ingredients such as fragrances to make the product more appealing, preservatives, and in some cases, artificial colors. Because many topical ear cleaners contain compounds that may be harmful to a perforated eardrum, it is best to always consult with a veterinarian before using an ear cleaner and follow his directions accordingly.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Pet Shed: How To Clean Your Dog's Ears
- Canine and Feline Dermatology Drug Handbook; Sandra N. Koch, Sheila M. F. Torres, Donald C. Plumb
- The Dog's Drugstore: A Dog Owner's Guide to Nonprescription Drugs and Their Safe Use in Veterinary Home-Care; Richard W. Redding, Myrna Papurt
- Second Chance: Ear Hematomas In Your Dog And Cat
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.