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Ear Treatments – How best to administer treatment


Topical ear treatments are usually necessary to control inflammation and infections of the ear canals in pets. Here is a guide as to how best to apply ear treatments so that your pet can get better sooner.

Step by step instructions for ear treatments:

  1. Get all the medication ready and make sure that you have read and understood the instructions on the label. Have some treats ready to give once the ear treatment has been applied, the ears have been cleaned or both.
  2. Hold the medication in your dominant hand and using your other hand hold onto or lift up the ear flap.
  3. Place the nozzle or dropper into the ear canal and apply the medication as directed.
  4. After removing the dropper rub around the base of the ear in a circular motion to distribute the medication. Be gentle as the ear is likely to be sore at the start of treatment.
  5. Release the ear and let your pet shake their head. Then offer them a treat.
  6. Repeat for the other side if needed.

Things to take into account

It is important to give your animal lots of praise for good behaviour throughout the procedure. However, if they are not co-operating, leave it for a while and try again in a little while when they have calmed down again. The ear canal has a horizontal section and a vertical section (see picture below), if the nozzle is not placed correctly into the ear canal the ear treatment will not reach the horizontal part of the ear canal and is less likely to be successful. Therefore place the nozzle in as far as you can before applying the medication. Do not worry, the ear drum (Tympanic membrane) is right at the bottom of the canal and standard ear treatment applicators are not long enough to reach the ear drum and cause damage.

Ear Cleaning

When cleaning the ears before applying ear treatments or for routine cleaning and maintenance, the steps are very similar to those above. The main differences are:

  • When applying cleaners it is helpful to apply a large amount not just a few drops like most ear treatments. The cleaners are there to break down and help remove the wax. Apply enough so that it is almost leaking back out at you.
  • Once you have applied the cleaner block the ear canal with some tissue or a cotton wall pad whilst you rub the cleaner around the ear canal. Then use this pad to wipe away what you can. Do not put cotton buds down the ear canal to clean deeper down, over a few days with the rubbing and head shaking the dirt from deeper down will move up and out of the ear canal.

Applying ear treatment to cats

Cats can be trickier to apply ear treatments to in dogs, however the steps are the same. Some cats may be better wrapped in a towel or held between your legs whilst you kneel on the floor so the are less able to run away. Get everything ready before you get your cat so that you are prepared to keep the procedure as short and stress free as possible, and don’t forget a tasty treat. This video below demonstrates how to apply ear treatment to cats.

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