Around my house, the exclamation “Magic stinks!” was not uncommon. Every dog has an unpleasant habit or two, but Magic’s most beloved hobbies were really gross. In his eyes, the cat’s litter box was an all you can eat buffet, a rotten dead squirrel was a rare treasure, and a smelly running shoe was the perfect air freshener. Anytime he disappeared somewhere in the house or backyard for a suspiciously long time, he always returned with a big smile and an unbearable stench.
But one day, this stench was different– but it definitely still made my nose burn. And not only did he stink, he also kept shaking his head like a bug was buzzing in his ear. Upon lifting up an ear flap, rather than finding a bug I found a whole lot of built-up brown gunk. Magic’s veterinarian informed me that the smell, head shaking, and discharge were symptoms of an ear infection. Moisture caused by swimming, grooming, environmental allergies, furry ears, or floppy ears encourage microorganisms to grow, leading to an uncomfortable ear infection. Because an ear infection can be painful and cause damage if untreated, his veterinarian prescribed daily ear cleaner and medicated drops until his ears healed.
Magic was a very sassy dog when things didn’t go his way, so every time I had to mess with his ears he turned into an absolute brat. At first, I tried to tempt him to participate by showing him his favorite treats, but he just stared at me from across the room with a look on his face that said I wasn’t born yesterday, Lauren. Once I successfully chased him down, he wiggled, growled, huffed, puffed, and clawed at his ears until I eventually had no choice but to back him into a corner to hold him still.
To clean his ears, I held the ear flap up and out and filled it all the way up with cleaner. I then massaged the base of his ear in circles until I heard a squishing sound. Listening for the squish helped me make sure the cleaner reached every nook and cranny. He shook once I let go of his head, but that’s actually a good thing because it helps bring out any discharge. I used a cotton ball to wipe the discharge and excess cleaner out of his ear (the vet advised me to not use a q-tip because they can damage the ear canal). After cleaning, I administered the drops into his ear canal and rubbed the base of his ear to spread the medication.
After a week of struggling through this daily ritual, his ear stench disappeared and he shook his head less and less. Although his stubborn attitude would never let him admit it, he was undoubtedly relieved to resume his normal, preferred routine with clean ears.
A bad smell, head shaking, ear scratching, redness, swelling, discharge, and whimpering when the ears are touched are signs or an ear infection. Because untreated ear infections can be painful and cause damage, veterinary attention is necessary to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.