About Shih Tzu Ears

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. 

Ear Mites:  Tiny little white parasites that live in the ear canal can cause intense itching and head shaking.  Learn more about ear mites here.

All of this can be preventing by cleaning his ears periodically. 

Caring About Shih Tzu ears involves three steps.

Shih Tzu Ear Problems
  • Observing for infection (redness, swelling, little specs that resemble coarse black pepper)

  • Wiping out excess wax and dirt using a cotton ball dipped in ear cleaner, wipes specifically designed to clean ears, or a few drops of plain mineral oil.

  • Removing excessive hair inside the canal if your breed continues to grow hair inside his ears.

Procedure for Caring About Shih Tzu Ears

Assemble Materials

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:

  • Clean cotton balls, tissues or gauze pads (at least one or more for each ear) and several cotton tipped applicators

  • Mineral oil, ear cleaner wipes, or ear cleaner such as Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser

  • Ear powder such as R-7 Powder

  • Curved hemostat (optional) or tweezers

Observe for Infection

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:

  • Ear discharge
  • Bad smells
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Crusty skin
  • Hair loss

Ear Mites

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.

Click here to learn more about Ear Mites in Dogs.

Check out our Video  for a detailed ways to clean your dog's ears

To Clean A Shih Tzu Ears

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. 

Remove Hair From Shih Tzu Ears

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.

About Shih Tzu Ears: 
Preventative Care

  • Clean ears periodically, but not so often that you cause irritation

  • Keep the Shih Tzu’s ears dry during and after baths. You can use a small wad of cotton in your Shih Tzu’s ear during a bath and dry thoroughly after the bath.

  • Dry ears well after the dog has gone swimming

  • Pluck ear hairs from the Shih Tzu’s canal periodically

  • If your dog has chronic ear problems, ask your vet to prescribe a drying agent.

About Shih Tzu Ears:  Ear Wax Build Up in the Ear Canal

A site visitor recently emailed me about a problem she was having with her Shih Tzu...

I own a six year old Shih Tzu, had him since he was 8 weeks old, and he has had an ongoing issue with his right ear generating an over-abundance of ear wax.  I have taken him to the vet, and it is not an infection, rather wax buildup.  I have had him on good food, grain free, for over 4 years, I do not let him have any corn in his treats, etc. and do not feel him table scraps or human food other than the occasional piece of meat, etc. 

My groomer has suggested a product called Micro-tek, made by Eqyss, a spray, that can be used to flush out and clean their ears, which I have been using about once a week, but last night discovered a large ball of wax protruding from his ear.  I didn't know until watching your video that you can pull out their ear hair so easily, so maybe I need to begin doing that once a week or so.  Do you have any solutions or experience with a dog producing so much ear wax?

And, My response...

Any dog that has drop down ears can be prone to ear problems, but it sounds like you are doing all the right things when it comes to diet and cleaning.  Some dogs just seem to produce more ear wax than others and I suspect the reason has a genetic component.  I've always used cleaning solutions prescribed by my vet so I'm not 100% comfortable recommending one product over another. 

I do know that you should pick one that has a drying component to help with the ear wax.  Also, how often do you bathe your dog?  Sometimes we can "over-bathe" them.  Frequent bathing especially when water gets into the ear can cause problems.  When you do bathe your dog, consider placing a small piece of cotton inside the ear so no water can enter.  Removing all the hair inside the ear will also help because a clean ear canal will allow air to circulate easier and prevent infection from setting in. 

When you remove the little hairs, use an ear powder first to help you grab and remove them easily.  Then, use your ear cleaning solution to thoroughly clean out the ear.  Most dogs will shake their head when you put the solution into their ear, but that is OK because it helps remove some of the debris.  Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any other questions.

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