How To Clean Your Shih Tzu’s Ears

WRITTEN BY STACY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM

Black and white Shih Tzu dog being brushed out by his human

If you’ve accepted the challenge of grooming your Shih Tzu, then you probably already know that the amount of maintenance your pup requires depends largely on which style haircut you choose for your fur baby.

However, regardless of her fashionable do, you always need to cover the basics; eyes, nails, mouth, and ears.

When it comes to cleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears, all you really need are a few basic items, some patience, and the know-how.

Although all dogs do not need their ears cleaned often, Shih Tzu ears need regular attention.

To clean your Shih Tzu’s ears, you can use ear cleaning drops to help loosen any wax that might be present. Then, you simply wipe the inside of her ear and her ear flap with a damp cloth. Use the other side of the cloth, or a new one, to clean the other ear.

You don’t need any fancy tools or supplies, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to technique.

If your pup is finicky when it comes to people touching her ears, you’ll also want to make sure to slowly introduce her to the process.

Ultimately, you should aim to clean your dog’s ears at least once a week.

Here’s a closer look at why keeping your Shih Tzu’s ears in tip-top shape is important, and how to do it.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean a Shih Tzu’s Ears?

If you don’t take proper care of your Shih Tzu’s ears, it can lead to a host of issues like wax build-up, infections, discharge, mites, and more.

Sometimes, the outer ear area can become inflamed and irritated, causing discharge and a lot of discomfort for your pup.

Infections caused by bacteria or yeast can also occur, especially if your pup’s ears are not kept dry. Therefore, make sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly after every bath and any other exposure to water.

If you notice your pal constantly scratching at her ears, you might have a case of ear mites on your hands.

These little pesky parasites make their way into the ear to feed on your pooch’s blood, leaving behind small open wounds that can lead to even more problems and further infection.

What’s the Best Way To Clean a Shih Tzu’s Ears?

Shih Tzu dogs ear being held up by human fingers to show inside of ear flap

Your Shih Tzu has very special ears that need regular attention and cleaning, at least once a week. This means that, unless you plan to bring her to a groomer every week, her ear care is up to you!

Your first step is to make sure you have the necessary tools to properly clean your pup’s ears.

Luckily, there aren’t many fancy products required, just assemble the following items in your grooming tool kit:

  • Ear cleaning drops
  • A soft cloth
  • Cotton balls or gauze pads
  • Ear wipes
  • Scissors -- these should already be in your grooming kit; you’ll need them to trim any excess hair that grows inside of your Shih Tzu’s ears so that you can clean them well.

Take your time to introduce your pup to the process of cleaning her ears.

Let her sniff and investigate the tools, and get her used to having her ears touched by gently rubbing and petting her ears for a few seconds at a time.

You can eventually work up to handling her ears a little bit more until she is calm and relaxed when you touch her ears.

Always reward your pup with lots of praise and a treat when you fool with her ears so she associates the activity with something positive.

When you are ready to clean your Shih Tzu’s ears, make sure that you are in a comfortable position and in an area with a decent light source.

  • Check inside your dog’s ear for any hair, if there is just a little you can gently pluck it from your pup’s ears; if it is longer you’ll need to trim it with scissors.
  • Use a few drops of cleaning solution and gently wipe your dog’s inner ear flap with a cotton ball. (You only need to use drops inside of the ear canal every three weeks or so, depending on how often your dog tends to build up wax inside of her ears).
  • Gently massage the base of your dog’s ear to help loosen up dirt, then wipe the dirt away with a clean gauze pad, cotton ball, or ear wipe.
  • Use a slightly moist cotton ball or cotton swab to gently wipe out the ear canal. However, do NOT go further then what you can see. Putting anything too far into your dog’s ear can rupture the eardrum and cause a lot of damage.
  • Use a soft cloth to completely dry your pup’s ear.
  • Repeat the whole process with your dog’s other ear, using a fresh set of cotton balls and swabs.

Throughout the cleaning process, speak calmly to your pup to reassure her and keep her anxiety levels low.

You can also have a few small treats at the ready to offer to her as a reward for a job well done.

If your dog tends to get very anxious and nervous when you clean her ears, you can try wrapping her in a snug blanket or ThundershirtⓇ; the compression has a calming effect.

What If Something Is Wrong with My Shih Tzu’s Ears?

Sometimes, even with regular cleaning, you might notice that your pup is having some trouble with her ears.

If you notice any of the following, your pup might be suffering from an ear infection or other issue:

  • You notice inflammation or swelling of your pup’s ear or around her ear (or red, scaly skin on the ear flap)
  • There is discharge coming from your pup’s ear
  • Your pup is constantly scratching her ear
  • Your pup is frequently rubbing at her ear with her paw
  • Your pup is dragging her ear on the floor or against furniture
  • You notice an odor coming from your pup’s ear
  • Your pup frequently shakes her head

These are all causes for concern and reasons to consult with your veterinarian.

Cleaning your pup’s ears regularly can help prevent these issues, but cleaning her ears can’t make these problems go away if they’re already present.

Depending on what the problem is, your pup might require medicated ear drops to handle the situation.

It’s best to err on the side of caution and schedule a visit with your vet; she can perform an ear culture to determine if there is an infection present, treat the ear with an antibiotic solution, and instruct you on how to properly care for your dog’s ear at home.

There’s no denying that Shih Tzu are one of the more high-maintenance breeds when it comes to grooming, and even if you keep your dog’s hair cut short, you’ll need to devote regular attention to her ears.

Hopefully, after reading this, you’re more prepared to tackle the task and keep your dog’s ears clean and healthy.

These are all causes for concern and reasons to consult with your veterinarian.

Cleaning your pup’s ears regularly can help prevent these issues, but cleaning her ears can’t make these problems go away if they’re already present.

Depending on what the problem is, your pup might require medicated ear drops to handle the situation.

It’s best to err on the side of caution and schedule a visit with your vet; she can perform an ear culture to determine if there is an infection present, treat the ear with an antibiotic solution, and instruct you on how to properly care for your dog’s ear at home. 

Shih Tzu being held by its human

There’s no denying that Shih Tzu are one of the more high-maintenance breeds when it comes to grooming, and even if you keep your dog’s hair cut short, you’ll need to devote regular attention to her ears.

Hopefully, after reading this, you’re more prepared to tackle the task and keep your dog’s ears clean and healthy.

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