12 tips for easier cat and dog ear care


We love aural communication, which is why weve put together this list of some of our favorite veterinarian and veterinary technician ear tips from readers in the past few years


Properly positioning smears from ears makes identification a cinch

To prepare a slide without having to label it, position the smear from the left ear on the center of the slide and a smear from the right ear on the right third of the slide. Then if you always place the slide on the microscope so that the empty third is on the left, the smear on the left will always be from the left ear and the smear on the right will always be from the right ear.

Dr. Anthony DiAngelis

Brick, New Jersey


Use R or L to identify smears

To make it easy for us to identify which ear an otic sample was taken from, we smear the sample into the shape of an R or an L directly on the slide.

Dr. Craig Adams 

Port Orchard, Washington




Increase ear cleaning compliance

When I see a patient with ear problems, I ask the pet owner what he or she uses to clean the pet's ears. Since few owners clean their pets' ears appropriately, I keep several plastic squeeze bottles on hand to give to clients at no charge. The bottles are labeled with instructions to help owners mix and administer the ear cleanser correctly. Clients love it, and it improves compliance.

Dr. Angela Spar 

Rockville Centre, New York


Put out the trashcan and clean Rex's ears

When I tell clients to clean their pets' ears, give medications or perform other procedures twice a week, I tell them to do it on garbage-pick-up days, which are Tuesdays and Fridays in our area. Giving clients a real-life reminder on a schedule they're used to has helped with compliance.

Dr. Paul Wolff 

Palm City, Florida


Easier ear medication distribution

Many otic medications require owners to blindly squeeze the bottle, leaving them unsure as to how much, if any, medication went into their pets' ears. Also, viscous medications often do not get deep enough into the ear canals of large dogs.

To ensure patients get an adequate amount of medication, I give owners 1-ml tuberculin syringes with the needles removed. I prescribe the dose by 10ths of a milliliter rather than by the number of drops (0.1 ml = two to five drops, depending on the viscosity of the solution). This way, owners know exactly how much medicine is getting into their pets' ears and can get the medicine deeper into the canal.

Dr. Kim Labak 

Urbana, Illinois




Lubricant reduces pain during ear exams

When performing otoscopic examinations in dogs and cats, especially ones with severe otitis externa, I put a little lubricating jelly on the otoscope speculum to ease discomfort caused by the examination. Since the jelly is sterile, you can obtain a sample for culture after the examination, if necessary.

Dr. Carl Zymet, DABVP

Ossining, New York


A tisket, a tasket, an ear care basket

We place all our ear care items in a basket, so we know exactly where to find what we need when we need it. The basket includes ear cleaner, saline solution, hemostats and bulb syringes. A drawer under the basket is filled with cotton for cleaning pets' ears.

Brenda Girard, LVT

St. Clair Shores, Michigan


Easy-does-it ear wash cannulas

We reuse intravenous sets to create soft, flexible cannulas for ear washes. Cut a 6- or 7-in section from a used intravenous set, and push one end over a 12-ml syringe. Quickly burn the end with a lighter to soften the cut edges.

John Young, practice manager

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico




Try needlework mesh to guard injured ears

Aural hematomas need support to protect the ear and hold the tissues together to allow healing. The plastic canvas mesh used for needlework works great for this purpose. The open mesh doesn't dull needles, lets air circulate for better healing, and can be trimmed to fit any ear. In addition, the mesh comes in many colors for fashionable dogs.

Karen Stasky, veterinary assistant 

Evergreen Park, Illinois


Treating infected ear canals after hematoma surgery

Many patients with aural hematomas have concurrent ear infections. After hematoma repair, we usually bandage the dog's ear over the top of its head by using a Vetwrap (3M) head wrap. To make it possible for owners to clean the ear canal and administer medications, we carefully cut a hole in the bandage over the ear canal.

Dr. LeAnne Breland 

Millington, Tennessee


Getting ear bandages to stay in place

I've found bandaging an ear after an ear hematoma repair to be a challenge. I've been using stretch net sleeves to allow air to get into the canal of the ear that we bandage over the head. However, the sleeve has been difficult to tape in place. Taping the cranial edge to the dog's head has not been a problem, but securing the caudal edge with tape is not ideal, because the sleeve tends to creep forward with the loose skin on the neck. Cutting small slits through the stretch net sleeve and feeding the collar through it solves this problem.

Dr. John S. Parker 

Novi, Michigan


Minimize ear drainage mess with liners

Whether a cannula is used or the ear is surgically opened and quilted, a lot of bloody drainage results from ear hematoma surgery. This surgery necessitates postoperative placement of an Elizabethan collar, but the collar gets messy and sticky. So we cut an absorptive cage liner and tape it to the interior of the E-collar next to the affected ear. It makes for a cleaner dog, a happier client and much less collar washing. Give clients a stack of these liners cut to fit and instructions to change them once or twice a day depending on the amount of drainage.

Dr. Gina M. Hanfland 

Cottonwood Heights, Utah



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