Beagles are miniature foxhounds that are popular for their cute looks and a great sense of smell. This is not surprising because they descended from small hounds that were used to track hares.
They are friendly and intelligent dogs that make for excellent family dogs. In fact, they fall in the top ten most popular dog breeds in the United States.
Large droopy ears on a small frame add to their cuteness. But it’s not all fun and games when it comes to taking care of a beagle’s ears. Because of the structure of the ear, beagles are prone to ear infections.
Let’s look at how to keep beagle ears clean!
Why Should You Clean Your Beagle’s Ears?
Beagles are known for their pendant ears or drop ears. These small dogs have long, floppy ears that resemble those of a hound. These floppy ears with rounded ends hang down from the side of the head.
Floppy ears are commonly seen in domesticated dogs. Once dogs were domesticated, they stopped using their ears constantly to alert or sense danger unlike dogs in the wild. Over time and evolutionary cycles, the muscles became floppy and the ears began to droop.
The shape and size of a beagle’s ears make it prone to ear infections. The long flaps cover the ear canal and block airflow. This creates a dark, moist environment that is ideal for bacterial growth.
How Often Should You Clean Your Beagle’s Ears?
Since their ears are structured the way they are, you cannot get out of ear cleaning duty when it comes to grooming a beagle. Since they can develop infections in the blink of an eye, you will need to keep the ear canals as well as the flaps clean regularly.
Ideally, you should clean your beagle’s ears every two to three weeks. This will prevent the wax from building up and help get rid of any dirt and debris that might have made its way under the flap.
Set up a cleaning schedule and clean on a specific day every two or three weeks. This will help you keep track of the cleanings so that you don’t miss any.
Your veterinarian might recommend weekly cleanings if your beagle has an excessive wax buildup problem. Too much wax can restrict airflow in the ear canal, so you might need to clean more often if your beagle produces wax faster.
Causes of Ear Infections
- Moisture: The flap-like ears that prevent proper airflow create a moist environment inside a beagle’s ear. This is one of the main reasons beagles develop ear infections.
- Fleas or Ticks: These parasites can cause a lot of itchiness and irritation to your dog. Sometimes they can get inside your dog’s ear and lead to ear infections.
- Mites: Ear mites are contagious tiny pests that belong to the arachnid family. They feed on the wax and oils in your dog’s ear. They can cause discomfort and make your dog’s ears very itchy, the itching might damage the ears and cause ear infections.
- Bacteria and Yeast: Moist environments are ideal for fungal as well as bacterial growth. Improper cleaning by excessively poking and prodding inside your dog’s ears can lead to such infections.
- Excess Water: After a good swim water can be trapped in your dog’s ears. This excess moisture can lead to infections.
- Excess Wax: If too much wax builds up in your dog’s ear canal it can restrict airflow and cause infections.
- Endocrine Disorders: Diseases that affect the endocrine system, like hypothyroidism, can often cause ear pain and ear infections in dogs.
- Allergies: Sometimes allergic reactions can result in dogs developing chronic ear infections.
How to Clean Your Beagle’s Ears
Cleaning your beagle’s ears is an important and unavoidable part of grooming the dog. It can get messy so it would be best to clean your dog’s ears in the bathroom. This will make cleaning after the whole process a lot easier for you.
Things You Need
- Canine Ear Cleaning Solution: The safest choice is to use a cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian. You can also use a homemade cleaning solution, but you can never guarantee whether this will reduce or increase irritation.
- Cotton Ball or Gauze: Sterile cotton balls or gauze can be used to wipe up the gunk from the ear.
- Towel: It’s always a good idea to keep a towel handy, you never know when things might get too messy.
Steps to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
- Apply Cleaning Solution: Lift the flap of the ear and squirt or squeeze the cleanser into the ear canal.
- Massage Ear: After bringing the flap down you should massage the base of the ear. Massage the ear for a full minute so that the solution is distributed all over the canal. This will help loosen the wax and debris stuck inside.
- Wipe: You beagle will most likely shake its head once you stop massaging. This is good as it will dislodge the loose debris. Afterward, lift the flap again and gently wipe the visible part of the ear canal using a clean cotton ball.
Things to Avoid
You should never use ear swabs or Q-tips to clean the ear canal. You might feel that this helps you clean out the gunk from deep inside but all it does is push the wax and buildup further down the canal. This will clog the ear canal and reduce airflow.
If you feel that the regular cleaning has not completely removed all of the wax, take your beagle to a veterinarian. Trying to do it yourself can cause pain and increase the chances of infection.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide—both concentrated and diluted forms—is used around the household as a cleaning solution. It is often used to clean up dirt and debris from open wounds.
Your beagle’s ears contain sensitive tissue and hydrogen peroxide can have an abrasive effect on this tissue. To prevent damaging your dog’s ears always use cleaning solutions that are veterinarian approved.
Related: Do Beagles Shed A Lot?
Symptoms of Ear Infections
If your dog has an ear infection, it might be causing him extreme discomfort deep in the ear canal. Most of the time, your beagle will try to relieve this discomfort by scratching at his ears.
However, since the problem is internal this will offer no relief, but your dog will keep scratching anyway.
Rubbing Ears Against Other Surfaces
Another way your dog tried to relive this internal discomfort of the itch is by rubbing its ears against walls and on the floor.
This will not help your dog in any way either, other than alerting the owner to some kind of irritation or discomfort. It is your job to pick up on these signs and get your dog the help it needs.
If your dog is walking around constantly shaking its head, it might be a sign that it is in pain or has an itch that it can’t reach.
In general, beagles are whiny dogs. In fact, they get their name from the French word for “a noisy person”.
This is a blessing in disguise as your dog will let you know if they are in pain or if they experience discomfort. So keep track of your dog’s barks, whines and whimpers because this is how he will communicate with you.
If your beagle is walking around with its head tilted to one side it is a sure sign of infected ears. Most of the time, head tilting occurs when the infection has progressed to an advanced stage.
If you notice your doggy walking around with its head tilted rush him to the vet before it’s too late!
If you have been noticing changes in your dog’s behavior for a while it might time to take him to the veterinarian.
Just like humans, when a dog is in pain its appetite reduces and its movements weaken and slow down. If you notice any such changes in your beagle, check if he has an ear infection.
Bacterial and fungal growth can often produce an unpleasant odor. So if your beagle has a bacterial or fungal infection, you will notice a pungent odor during your regular ear cleaning sessions.
The combination of bacteria, wax and fluid can be a deadly combination.
Related: Do Beagles Smell?
Serious or advanced infections can produce discharge from the ear. It can either be bacterial gunk or fluid. Sometimes it might even be dried up blood. The color of the discharge can vary depending on the nature of the infection.
Ear wax is a body’s natural preventive measure to disrupt the entry of dirt and dust into the ear canal. However, too much wax build up can completely block the ear canal and cause infections.
Sometime’s your dog’s immune system responds to a bacterial infection in the ear by producing more wax. This can result in crusting or scabs inside the ear canal.
How to Treat Ear Infections
Always go to a veterinarian if you suspect that your dog has an ear infection. Do not try to treat it yourself with home remedies.
If you notice discharge or excess wax when cleaning your beagle’s ears, stop cleaning immediately and book an appointment with the vet. If you attempt to clean it yourself you might push the gunk and wax further into the ear canal adding to your dog’s pain and discomfort.
Topical ointments, cleaning solutions and antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor. Ear infections usually subside in two weeks if given proper care and treatment.
Tips to Prevent Ear Infections
If you own a beagle, it is impossible to prevent your dog from ever developing ear infections. Beagle ears are structured in such a way that it provides an ideal condition for bacterial and fungal growth.
However, do not be disheartened! There are a few things that you can do to reduce the number of ear infections that your beagle develops. Here are some tips to prevent chronic ear infections.
Following a regular cleaning schedule, every two or three weeks is the only way to stay on top of the ear infection situation.
Regular clean ups will help you monitor your beagle’s ears closely. So if at all there is an infection you will be able to detect it early and nip it in the bud.
Treat Underlying Cause
Sometimes infections are caused by allergic reactions or endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism.
Infections might also be caused by excessive or abrasive cleaning methods. Sometimes a foreign object lodged in the ear canal can cause infections.
Take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis and adopt a suitable treatment plan, especially if it’s caused by a disease like hypothyroidism which might require targeted treatment.
Keep Ears Dry
Moisture inside the ear canal is one of the main culprits behind painful ear infections. Make sure your dog’s ears are dry especially after coming back from a swim or a romp in the rain.
Increase Airflow into the Ear Canal
Since beagles have large droopy years, there is no natural way to increase airflow into the ear canal. You will have to take one of the following steps to increase airflow:
- Remove excess hair around the opening of the ear canal
- Tie up the flap or tape them on top of your beagles head. This might cause some discomfort but this will prevent infections as well as help heal existing infections faster.
Follow a Healthy Diet
A healthy and balanced diet is essential to tackle most health problems. Adding Omega-3 supplements to your dog’s diet can help bring down inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
A healthy immune system will prevent your dog from developing ear infections on a regular basis.
Related: How Fast Can Beagles Run?
Beagle ears are susceptible to infection no matter how well you take care of your dog. This is not due to lack of care or grooming, it is just a result of its anatomy.
Keep a close eye on symptoms and try to catch them early on to minimize your dog’s discomfort.