close-up photo of white medium-coated dog running on grass field during daytime

Poodle Ears – Ear Care, Cleaning and Hygiene

If there’s one thing a Poodle owner sometimes overlooks, it’s his pet’s ears! You’ll be surprised by how crucial it is to clean your dog’s ears to maintain excellent health. 

After all, dogs are like humans, even when it comes to our ears. Dogs produce earwax that builds up over time, inhibiting airflow and leading to infections, discomfort, and many other diseases.

Because Poodles have large and drop-down ear flaps, they are more prone to ear infections in warm, moist, and dark areas!

But what else must we learn about Poodle ears, and how can you take proper care of them?

What You Must Know About Poodle Ear Health

Some dog breeds, like the Poodle, tend to grow more hair in the ear. Whether Standard, Miniature, or Toy Poodle, all Poodle varieties have long ear hairs that interfere with their ear canals’ healthy airflow.

Poodles must undergo regular ear cleaning and hair plucking as part of their grooming routine with their ear hair. Fortunately, you can do it at home, though it takes time, patience, and a lot of learning. Alternatively, you can take your Poodle to a professional groomer.

If you want to keep a budget, you can conduct regular Poodle ear grooming yourself, provided you have the correct products and cleaning technique.

Common Poodle Ear Problems and Symptoms

If ever you don’t groom your Poodle’s ears properly, it increases their risk of the following:

Ear Infections

Ear infections are a common consequence when a Poodle’s ears are not taken care of. It’s troublesome, and while most dogs would have acute cases now and then, some end up experiencing chronic ear infections.

Here are the common ear infection signs and symptoms:

  • Odor – The first symptom dog owners would detect. The smell can either be subdued or very strong and overwhelming. Regardless, you must investigate your dog’s ears if they have particular odors.
  • Discharge – Also known as ear gook, black, green, or other colored wax, indicates infection. Whether thick or runny, such discharge isn’t normal, especially when there’s pus or bleeding involved.
  • Rubbing – Your Poodle will experience some pain, discomfort, and itching. As a way to ease that itch, he will most likely try pawing at his ears or rub them against the floor, wall, and other surfaces. He might also shake his head rapidly to find relief.
  • Dizziness – Ear infections can throw off one’s equilibrium. As a result, your Poodle will appear buddy and find trouble maintaining balance.
  • Odd eye movement – You find this common symptom with middle ear infections.
  • Other symptoms – This may include your Poodle not feeling well in general, having fever or less appetite, looking listless, or just not feeling themselves.

Prevent this from happening by keeping your Poodle’s ears free from long hair. Also, clean out their ears from wax buildup and water. We’ll talk about cleaning and treatments in the next section.

Ear Yeast Infections

Poodles can also develop ear yeast infections in one or both their ears. In many cases, you’ll find the yeast infection in other parts of Poodles’ bodies as well, usually on their paws.

There’s a specific kind of yeast present in small amounts of all dogs’ bodies. It’s natural. However, when the yeast amount is thrown off balance, there’s a risk of overgrowth, which may end up affecting the ears.

One common cause of ear yeast infection is from giving steroid medication to dogs to control allergies.

Ear yeast infections cause itching and irritation, though the most common symptom is the odor. Some dog owners say it smells moldy, while others think it smells like cheese popcorn. Regardless, it’s a musty, disagreeable, and powerful odor.

The veterinarian will prescribe anti-yeast infection medication when they confirm through a swab test examined using a microscope. If other areas of your Poodle’s body are also affected, the vet may prescribe medicated baths. Besides medicines and cleaning, your Poodle’s vet may also suggest a low-sugar diet.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are a kind of mange that commonly affects puppies. However, all dogs are susceptible to ear mites.

Unfortunately, these are very contagious and can spread from dog to dog or even dog to other animals. Fortunately, you can’t catch canine ear mites!

Symptoms of ear mites include intense itching, crusts on outer ears, and bumps resembling coffee grounds in the ear canals.

If the vet notices your Poodle has ear mites, he’ll prescribe particular medication to give all animals in your household for 7-10 days. Another round of medicine will be given two weeks later to destroy mite eggs. Furthermore, the entire house needs to be cleaned thoroughly to remove any form of mites.

Otitis Externa

This is a severe inflammation of a dog’s ear canal. It’s caused by numerous things, such as allergies, parasites, or yeast, and bacterial infections.

Besides a bad-smelling odor, itchiness, and common ear infection symptoms, you might notice a slight noise as you press on your Poodle’s ear canal.

Treating Common Ear Problems

The course of treatment would depend on the type of ear problem your Poodle has. As mentioned above, the veterinarian will need to conduct tests to make a diagnosis. The vet usually prescribes medication to be taken regularly until the symptoms go away and gives other prevention tips.

Here are some of the possible treatments:

  • Antibacterial or antifungal drugs are used, along with steroids, to treat bacterial or yeast infections and reduce inflammation. This can either be oral antibiotics or through ear drops.
  • Full ear flush to examine the ear canal and detect any blood clots or more severe issues.
  • Chronic ear infections may end up with surgery to open the vertical ear canal to clean and prevent scarring.
  • Rarely do chronic ear infections cause a lot of inner ear scarring. Unfortunately, it still happens, and surgical treatments like ablation are required. That means the vet will need to remove the entire ear canal, though this is the last resort when all other options are proven ineffective.

Note that serious infections would take a few weeks to heal and require regular medications and routine checkups. Not only is this expensive, but it takes a toll on your Poodle’s health and your time! That’s why it’s essential to focus on your Poodle’s ears and keep them in excellent health.

How to Care for Your Poodle’s Ears

You wouldn’t want your Poodle to go through all that pain and discomfort. Nor would you like to end up with an unhealthy dog and pricey medical bills!

Ear grooming is just as important as all other parts of caring for a Poodle, and you should never overlook this part. That said, I’ll show you the proper way to groom your Poodle’s ears: Through regular cleaning and trimming.

Plucking Poodle Ears

You might have come across numerous debates and arguments on whether to pluck or trim a dog’s ear. Ultimately, it depends. Some Poodles might have more hair in their ear canal than others, with a few Poodles not requiring any plucking. The only goal is proper airflow to maintain a dry ear canal.

Some pet owners prefer plucking ear hair rather than removing them, removing hair strands and roots. However, the follicles remain, and strands grow back.

People prefer plucking over trimming because it only shortens the strands, so it doesn’t free up the airflow. If Poodle’s ears were clipped, it might create a thick and dense area to trap more debris, bacteria, or even yeast.

Here are the tools you need to pluck your Poodle’s ears:

  • Ear powder made for dogs.
  • Hemostat, a surgical tool that looks like scissors, is used to pluck hairs. You can also use tweezers or your hand, but hemostats are the best tool for the job.
  • Ear cleaning solution
  • Sterile cotton ball

To pluck your Poodle’s ear hairs, here are the following steps:

  1. Have your dog lay by his side and his head on your lap, so it’s easier to tip his head to one side. Fold his ear back.
  2. Apply a small amount of ear powder to your Poodle’s ear and massage the powder in the areas you’d like to pluck. Cover all hair you plan to pluck on the hair strand base. Doing that maximizes the grip of every hair strand, making plucking smoother.
  3. Using the hemostat, pluck the hair out of your Poodle’s ear canal. I recommend limiting the amount of hair plucked each time, as your dog will feel uncomfortable during the process. Rapidly pluck the ear hair, being careful not to cause skin scarring.
  4. Use an ear cleaning solution and a sterile cotton ball to wipe the remaining ear powder on your Poodle’s ears. Then do the process on the other side.

Of course, this sounds easier said than done. Before you even attempt to pluck your Poodle’s ears, especially if it’s his first time, you must discover what works well for you and your Poodle.

Whether you’re trimming, plucking, or cleaning your dog’s ears, I recommend doing so right after exercising your dog. That’s a time when your Poodle feels more relaxed, a bit tired. He’ll want to sit still or lie down. Also, you might wish him just a little hungry, so he’ll appreciate the treats more during and after the process. 

Throughout the process, please talk with your poodle in a soothing voice and keep him comfortable. Give him treats afterward and avoid looking nervous, as you Poodle can sense your emotions!

Trimming Dog Ears for Ear Care

If you’re not knowledgeable about trimming a dog’s coat, then it’s best to leave it to a professional groomer every 4-6 weeks. They can trim your Poodle’s ears safely and give him an excellent haircut!

If you plan to do the procedure yourself, then use a pair of scissors or a trimmer, lightly skimming the hair from the underside of your Poodle’s ear flap.

The debate gets confusing. Check with the vet before plucking your Poodle’s ear hair to ensure the right course of action for your dog.

Other people prefer trimming ear hair over plucking as it may cause secondary infections in those prone to it. Dogs with active ear infections shouldn’t have their ears plucked, as the plucking and ear powder used may harm the inner ear.

Cleaning Poodle Ears to Prevent Infections

It would help if you cleaned your Poodle’s ears at least twice a month whenever it’s time to bathe him. While plucking hair from your poodle’s ears helps, there will still be wax buildup. Dogs need some wax in the ears to trap small debris and dust, but after it accumulates a certain amount, it requires cleaning. Too much wax is also a tremendous problem.

You should check their ears weekly for any odor, excess hair, or dirt and wax buildup. If you see any of the following mentioned, then it’s time to clean your Poodle’s ears.

Here are the things you need to clean their ears:

  • Ear cleaning solution (organic and with as few chemicals as possible). Do not use plain water!
  • Cotton balls (do not use Q-tips or cotton swabs, as this would easily slip and go into the ear canal, causing ruptured eardrums or wax to go further in the ear canal)

When you have your materials ready, follow these simple steps:

  1. Position your dog that his head is tipped to one side. I recommend laying your dog on its side, with his head raised to your lap. Hold open your Poodle’s ear flap using one hand, then pour a teaspoon of the cleaning solution in the ear with your other hand.
  2. Place the sterile cotton ball at the base of the Poodle’s ear, gently massaging it for 30-90 seconds. Doing so will gradually send the solution to the ear canal, doing its job of cleaning out the wax buildup and debris within. It also brings all the buildup and debris to the surface, which you can wipe out using another sterile cotton ball.
  3. Repeat on the other ear until there isn’t any debris or wax buildup anywhere. Afterward, use another final sterile cotton ball to dry the ears.

Besides cleaning and trimming (or plucking) your Poodle’s ears, here are other tips to follow to keep his ears clean:

Aerate your dog’s ears any chance you get. For instance, your dog is napping and lying down on his side. Flip his ear over for more air to get in. Aim for 30 minutes of aerating daily.

Clean your Poodle’s ears after they swim to prevent bacteria and moisture buildup in their ears.