Caring about Shih Tzu ears is a three step process that does not need to be time consuming, but can reap benefits to your dog. Some dogs, including many small breed dogs continue to grow hair in their ear canal and this excess hair with the combination of wax buildup can create problems for your dog. This is a particular problem for Poodles, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, and Affenpinschers.
The warm moist environment inside your Shih Tzu’s ear creates a great place for bacteria to grow as well as ear mites and can lead to ear infections. Ear infections are one of the top reasons that people end up taking their dog to the vet. You will know your dog is having difficult with his ear because he will shake his head, scratch at his ears and rub his head on the floor or other objects. All of this can be preventing by cleaning his ears periodically.
Before beginning, I gather my materials so that I will not need to stop and find an item. Items you might want to have on hand include:
Before you begin to clean the ear, observe the interior of the ear. Look for redness, swelling, or the presence of little specs of what appear to be coarse black pepper. Smell the ear canal.
Does it have an odor? Any of these signs should alert you to a possible infection or ear mite infestation. Stop and call to make a veterinary appointment. If everything appears normal, proceed to clean the ear and remove any ear hairs.
Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms affecting your Shih Tzu’s ears: These may be signs of mites or infections:
When you are cleaning your Shih
Tzu’s ears, notice if there is any
debris that resembles coffee grinds. If
so, you might be dealing with ear mites.
Many people when they think about Shih Tzu ears, they think Ear Mites. Not all problems are caused by ear mites, but it is a good idea to rule them out.
There are several types of mites that can live in your Shih Tzu’s ear, but the most common are otodectes cynotis. This is a common problem in puppies and young adult dogs, but any dog can get them.
These mites are not those that cause mange. But they are contagious to other pets but not humans. If you have more than one pet in the house, the other pets can be infected and should be treated. These tiny parasites live on the wax and oils found in the Shih Tzu’s ear canal.
Although it is nearly impossible to see these mites, an inexpensive otoscope that can be purchased over the counter will reveal tiny white specks among the black debris. You can also see these little creatures by removing a sample of the ear wax using cotton tipped applicator and viewing it under a magnifying glass.
If you do this, you will want to place the cotton tipped applicator on a black surface such as a piece of black construction paper. Look for white specks about the size of the end of a pin that are moving. These little mites can cause intense itching, irritation and inflammation and lead more serious skin or ear infections if left untreated. Some dogs scratch and shake their head so vigorously that they break blood vessels on the ear flap. Special medications are used to kill the ear mites and often the veterinarian will also prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat secondary infections.
Caring about Shih Tzu ears, means cleaning!! To clean an ear, use a cotton ball, cotton tipped applicator or ear wipe and gently wipe out each ear using a different wipe or cotton ball for each ear. For very dirty ears, you will need to use several until the wipes come out clean.
If using an ear cleaner, place the recommended number of drops in each ear and gently massage the base of the ear. The dog is likely to shake his head and spray you with excess cleaning, so be prepared. Allow the dog to shake as this helps loosen the debris. Wipe dry using small cotton balls and cotton tipped applicators. Never go any deeper than you can see with an applicator.
You will want to remove the hair inside your Shih Tzu’s ear periodically to prevent ear infections. Ear wax, ear hairs, moisture from swimming or bathing, and any other debris creates a fertile ground for an infection to brew. Most ear infections are caused by yeast or bacteria and anything that gets trapped in the canal is likely to remain.
When you think about Shih Tzu ears, its not hard to imagine how infections can happen quickly. The anatomy of a Shih Tzu’s ear canal creates an environment where any debris or water gets trapped making it very difficult to get out on its own. Dogs that have ears that hang down are most susceptible to infections, especially those whose hair continues to grow and weigh the ear down. This is true of Shih Tzu, but also Poodles, Cockers, and other small breed dogs.
To remove hair from the canal is a little trickier. Some dogs do not mind at all and others will squirm and wiggle. This procedure is uncomfortable but not painful. I like to compare it to plucking eyebrows, if you have ever done this.
First, sprinkle a few drops of an ear powder into the ear and spread it around if necessary to coat the ear hairs. The easiest way is to grab a few hairs with your thumb and forefinger and gently pull out. Repeat until the ear canal is free of hair.
Sometimes, it is impossible to get the hair with your fingers and that is where a pair of tweezers or hemostat comes in handy. I prefer hemostats as you can grab hold, clamp down onto the hair, and gently pull. Tweezers work the same way. Be very cautious as you do this, as it is very easy to catch a piece of skin between your tweezers or hemostats.
If your dog has recurring ear infections, your vet may recommend testing him for allergies and/or using an anti-fungal ear cleaner.