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In dogs, one of the most common reasons for trips to the vet is ear problems such as infections and mites. As a Yorkie owner, it’s wise to know when and how to clean their ears safely and correctly.
Your Yorkie may not exactly love this process, but it is better than the alternative. This guide will help you understand why hygiene for your Yorkie’s ears is so important and explain step-by-step how to help keep their ears in top condition.
How Often Should You Clean a Yorkie’s Ears?
Ideally, you should assess a Yorkie’s ears around once per month to check if they need cleaning. Yorkies that are prone to earwax buildup or those that get their ears wet often will need them cleaned more frequently to prevent ear mites and infections. On the other hand, some Yorkies rarely ever need their ears cleaning.
There isn’t a specific schedule you have to stick to unless your veterinarian gives you one due to an infection or other ailment. Instead, check inside their ears regularly. If you notice a build-up or any issues, give them a good clean to prevent more severe issues from developing. If there’s no wax or dirt then there is no need to clean. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Also, pay attention to their behaviors. Even if they can’t say, “My ears itch! Help me out!” in words, they will communicate it in their actions. If you notice your Yorkie constantly scratching its ears or shaking its head, this could be their way of telling you that something isn’t right in there.
Routine Ear Cleaning for Yorkies – Step by Step Guide
First of all, let’s go over the procedure for regular and routine ear cleaning. You can carry this very simple type of cleaning out for healthy dogs that do not have any issues such as infections or mites (see “Ear Canal Cleaning for Yorkies” below in case of infections or mites).
Cleaning your Yorkie’s ears will go a long way in preventing some common health issues but just bear in mind that your Yorkie will still need regular checkups at the vet’s regarding their ears and hearing.
#1 Inspect Their Ears – Check for Infections or Abnormalities
Probably the most important part of routine ear maintenance is to inspect and assess the health of your Yorkie’s ears. Checking this regularly will allow you to familiarize yourself with what is normal for your Yorkie. This will enable you to respond appropriately if you spot any abnormalities or signs of infection or ear mites.
Signs you are looking for are things such as unusual discharge, excessive wax buildup, signs of inflammation, or unusual smells. If you notice any of these do not continue to clean your dog’s ears and make a veterinary appointment.
More on ear mites and infections later…
You’ll also want to see whether their ears actually need cleaning or not. If there are no signs of wax buildup or debris then you may not need to do anything at all.
#2 Prepare Some Ear Cleaning Solution and Cotton Balls
Before you begin to clean your Yorkie’s ears, you’ll need to have gathered some supplies. For regular routine ear cleaning, you’ll need some ear cleaning solution such as Zymox Ear Cleanser (click to view on Amazon) and some cotton balls. Apply some ear cleaning solution to the cotton ball so that it’s ready to use.
#3 Find a Good Position
Next up, you should also find a good position that works for both you and your dog. Yorkies are high energy, feisty, and opinionated (be honest, you know that they’re really the boss at home). You want them to feel comfortable and at ease to make the cleaning process easier on your part.
If your Yorkie is used to being groomed or having their teeth brushed, they may be more willing to stay put. However, if they’re a bit more rambunctious, it will help to position them in a corner and then sit in front of them. Otherwise, just do what works for you in order to prevent them from trying to run off mid procedure. Positioning yourself close to them should give them some comfort also.
#4 Clean the First Ear
Now that you’ve finally assessed the situation, gathered your supplies, and got comfortable, you can begin to clean your Yorkie’s ears.
Simply hold your dog’s ear flap, otherwise known as the ear pinna (or pinnae for plural) in one hand and using a firm but gentle motion, wipe the inside of the pinna with the solution soaked cotton ball or tissue.
Continue this process with additional cotton balls and solution until the ear is completely clean and the cotton balls are no longer being discolored when wiping the ear.
For regular routine cleaning, you should only clean the visible areas of your dog’s ear. Do not go further into the ear canal as this may cause your dog harm.
Note: The inside of this flap has sensitive skin, so just be sure that you don’t scratch them if they start to pull away.
#5 Reward and Repeat for the Other Ear
This is not a pleasant process for your Yorkie, so you want to reward their good behavior after they sit through all of this. Make sure to take some time to give them some love, positive feedback, and one of their favorite treats.
You can then go ahead and repeat the cleaning process for the other ear. After you’ve finished, make sure to give them some more positive feedback and a final treat or reward. This should also help in making them more compliant the next time you have to clean their ears.
Ear Canal Cleaning for Yorkies – Step by Step Guide
This type of cleaning is typically done for dogs who have an ear infection or mites but shouldn’t be carried out unless you are advised to do so by a veterinarian. If for example, your Yorkie has another issue such as a damaged or ruptured eardrum you may do more damage than good.
#1 Prepare Supplies and Find a Good Position
Deep cleaning can get a little messier than regular routine cleaning so you may even want to go outside to prevent ear solution and debris from being shaken all over your home. If not, it’s a good idea to have a towel on standby.
Make sure that you have your cotton balls and ear solution at the ready also. If you need to carry out a deep clean then your vet should already have prescribed or recommended something specific to your dog’s issue, such as an infection or mite treatment like this one on Amazon.
As with regular routine cleaning, it’s best to position your Yorkie on the ground in between you and a corner or wall to help keep you Yorkie contained and comforted or just do whatever you and your Yorkie feel most comfortable with.
#2 Get the Ear Ready and Apply the Solution
Hold the ear flap/pinna firmly but gently open so that you’re exposing the ear canal for easier access. If your Yorkie has long hair, make sure it is out of the way so you have a clear pathway to the ear canal.
While you have the flap held back, pour the solution directly into your Yorkie’s ear canal. Fill as much of the ear canal as you can with the solution. Some may spill out, which is fine.
Be sure you don’t let the nozzle of the bottle touch your dog’s ears.
For the same reason that you shouldn’t use Q-Tips, you don’t want your Yorkie to begin to move around and have the nozzle cause any damage inside their ears. Additionally, bacteria from your dog’s ear can grow on the outside of the bottle, so do not make direct contact if possible.
#4 Massage the Base of the Ear
While holding the ear flap in the same upright manner, with your other hand, gently and slowly massage the base of the ear in order to agitate the ear canal. You should hear a bit of a squelching sound if done correctly.
This motion will get the solution moving around into the smaller nooks and crannies. Try to massage for around 30 seconds if your Yorkie will allow it, to give ample time for the solution to loosen and break up any debris that is in the ear canal.
Pro tip: Distract your dog with a treat or toy throughout this process. Sitting still for the entire time will be tough for them.
5# Clear Away the Solution and Debris
Here comes the messy part! At this point, you can let go of your Yorkie’s ear for a moment and let them shake their head to drain off most of the solution naturally. This will encourage everything to travel out of the canal, towards the opening of the ear.
Just be cautious, If you’re outside then just stand clear so that they don’t get too much on you. If you’re inside this is where you’ll want to make use of that towel which can be used as a shield to protect yourself and your Yorkie’s surroundings.
Once your Yorkie has finished shaking its head, wipe the entire area around the inner part of the ear flap/pinna along with the upper visible portion of the ear canal to remove any excess solution, wax buildup or dirt.
6# Reward and Repeat
As with routine cleaning, once you have finished one ear, make sure to give them plenty of praise and positive reinforcement along with a nice treat.
After they’ve had a second to regroup and get their reward, go ahead and repeat the steps on the other ear. Once this is done you can reward them once again and give them some positive reinforcement. Once complete, you’re all finished!
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Your Yorkie’s Ears
It’s important to remember, the process of cleaning your Yorkie’s ears is all about keeping them happy and healthy. With that in mind, here are a few things which you should not do when cleaning their ears:
- Never put anything down inside your dog’s ear canal. You should not touch beyond the areas you can actually see as it’s very easy to push wax or other dirt and debris further into your dog’s ear. It’s also very easy to cause them damage this way.
- Avoid Q-Tips and pointed implements. It is not advised to use Q-tips when cleaning your dog’s ears unless you know exactly what you’re doing. If your Yorkie starts to squirm, it is easy to accidentally shove the Q-Tip into their ear. This can cause permanent damage to the eardrum or canal.
- If you notice your Yorkie’s ears are abnormal in color or look irritated, you should not clean them. Beware of ears that are red, swollen, or painful to the touch. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your vet. Any solution or products that you use may be painful and could cause further damage.
- Don’t go overboard. This is not a routine you need to do on a daily basis (unless advised to do so by a veterinarian). If you begin cleaning their ears too frequently, it could end up doing more harm than good. With such sensitive skin and ear canals, the repetition could cause irritation and may be very uncomfortable for them.
- Make sure they are not in any pain. If your Yorkie begins to really try to get away, don’t push it. Although you will have to be firm with them and it may be hard to not cave if they let out a little whimper, knowing the difference between a stubborn Yorkie and a Yorkie in pain is an important distinction. If it seems as though they are in pain, stop what you are doing. They may need to be checked out at the vet to find the route cause of their discomfort.
How to Spot Ear Infections or Mites in Yorkies
Knowing the signs of infection or ear mites and what to look for will help you determine whether you need to take your Yorkie to the vet for treatment.
Ear infections are not only painful for Yorkies but can also be very disorienting. If your dog has ear mites then they can often develop an infection as a result. Many of the symptoms of ear mites or ear infections are very similar.
Some common symptoms of ear mites and infections include:
- Odor inside the ear
- Hair loss around the ear
- Loss of balance
- Walking in circles
- Hearing loss
- Yellow, brown or possibly bloody discharge
- Redness or swelling
- Head shaking
- Head tilt
- Crustiness or scabs inside the ear
- Unusual eye movements (typically cause from the lack of balance and disorientation)
If you start to see any of these symptoms, make sure to contact your vet right away. Proper cleaning techniques will help prevent infections, but once an infection has taken hold, it generally needs some sort of treatment or medication to clear.
The Importance of Keeping Yorkies’ Ears Clean
Dogs have a heightened sense of hearing compared to humans and their primal instincts rely heavily upon their sharp senses. Not only do we need to be careful while we clean their ears because of sensitivity, but also because their sense of hearing is very much a lifeline to them.
The way that a dog’s ear canal is structured makes it very difficult for anything that may be trapped inside to make it’s way back out. This is mainly due to the angle of the ear canal which actually slopes downward towards the inner and middle ear.
When anything becomes lodged or stuck inside their ear canal, even if it is just a wax buildup, it can cause itchiness, dryness, and, eventually, infections. Ensuring that your Yorkies ears remain clean and free of too much wax helps to prevent this from happening.
Why a Yorkie’s Hearing Is Particularly Vital
Another health issue that Yorkies are fairly prone to develop as they get older is known as Retinal Dysplasia. This can cause vision problems because of a thin layer of tissue that covers the back of the dog’s eyeball. In a worst-case scenario, this condition can lead to blindness.
Yorkies have an incredible sense of hearing. Because of this, in many cases, if something goes wrong with their eyesight, the owner may not even realize it because they can function at such a high level by relying on their other senses, including hearing.
Luckily, Yorkies aren’t prone to hearing conditions outside of those common to all dogs as they age. However, because of their higher risk of blindness, it is crucial that a Yorkie’s ears stay healthy. Their keen sense of hearing will help them navigate should their eyesight fail.
Yorkie’s Ears and Health Traits
Getting to know your Yorkie isn’t just about learning their little idiosyncrasies and big personalities. While that is an extremely important and rewarding part of being a dog owner, it’s good to learn some common issues related to the breed, healthy habits you can develop, and background knowledge.
For example, when Yorkshire Terriers are born, their ears are floppy. They don’t stand straight until they are older and develop the necessary muscles to keep their ears erect.
This will happen at around 3 to 6 months for most Yorkie pups. It may be a gradual process, and one may stand sooner than the other. (Warning: the one ear up and one ear down look is dangerously cute.)
The time it takes for their ears to stand can vary quite a bit, though, and some Yorkies may never even have ears that stand. While this isn’t directly indicative of any health issues to be concerned over, usually dog breeds with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections and the like. So just bear that in mind.
If you were planning on showing the dog in events, such as an AKC Show Events, floppy ears would also present a problem. The judges at these events are looking for symmetry and V-shaped ears that stand straight up in Yorkies. So if your Yorkie’s ears never perk up, it may not win any trophies but it will definitely win some hearts.
Yorkies have an average life expectancy of 11-15 years, according to the American Kennel Club. Ensuring your pup gets to live long while being happy and healthy will be dependent on the care you give them. Sometimes ear cleanings can take the backseat to other health habits and routines.
However, the health of your dog’s ears is just as important as many of the other things you’re probably doing on a regular basis. Have a chat with your vet about options for solutions and discuss what your specific Yorkie may be prone to. From there, you will be able to come up with a plan of action to keep their ears clean and healthy for the whole span of their lives.