what to do if there’s water in your dog’s ear
Updated September 24, 2019
It’s no biggie when we get water in our ears — we tilt our heads, hop on one foot and (usually) the water trickles out. But for our canine friends, it’s not so simple. And when water’s trapped in their ears, it sets the stage for uncomfortable fungal and bacterial infections.
Yeast and bacteria love warm, dark, damp places, so it’s doggone important to keep your dog’s ears dry. This can be a challenge for pups who dig the doggie paddle and dirty dogs who need frequent baths. But preventing otitis externa (ear infections) will save you time and money in the end, and your dog will thank you for warding off the itch and discomfort of an ear infection.
Plug ’em up with cotton
Luckily for furry friends, there’s nothing better than getting out of the water and shaking it all over you. This soppy, shaking episode includes the head so, usually, any water in their ears comes out. Before bath time, you can give your dog a leg up by blocking their external ear canals with a large cotton ball — just don’t forget to take them out after the bath!
Keeping ears clean & dry
Preventing water from getting in their ears is one thing, dealing with it after the fact is another.
If your dog goes swimming every day and never has a problem with their ears, there’s no need to change your routine. But for dogs who battle ear infections after swimming or bathing, use a soft cotton rag or cotton balls to dry as much of the external canal as you can. I generally recommend a drying ear cleaner, as well. There are many on the market, so ask your vet which one they prefer.
One thing to note: even though your dog’s ear canal is longer and curvier than ours, it’s still not safe to insert cotton swabs (Q-tips) down into the ear canal.
If debris is deep in the canal and regular cleaning isn’t cutting it, or if you think your dog might have an ear infection, it’s time to call the vet. Ear infections caused by fungus or bacteria cause will need medications to resolve — ear cleaner itself just won’t do the trick. Luckily, those medications can be covered by dog insurance, but the ideal situation is to prevent them from happening in the first place.