What’s that Black Gunk Lurking Inside Your Dog’s Ears?

dog with long ears

What’s that Black Gunk Lurking Inside Your Dog’s Ears?

If you have a dog with ears that flap over, you’ll recognize that OMG! moment when you casually lift up the ear flap and are shocked to see an entire universe happening inside that ear canal that you were oblivious to! Your first reaction is probably like mine, which is to drop the ear and ask yourself, “Now what the heck did I have to go and look in there for?!” However, once you have taken a look at the horror story that has been going on in there, you know you have to do something about it.

My new puppy Wanda has the most beautiful silvery gray ears, soft and delicate and way too big for her little Weimaraner face, which is waiting to catch up with the size of her ears! She loves to get in the shower with me (in fact barges her way in, pushing the glass door open, then bites madly at the water as it cascades down), so I know she is a really squeaky clean little girl. Which made it even more of a shocker to lift up her lovely ear flap only to find, to my horror, that beneath that nice exterior it was reddened and there was black tarry gunk coating the intricate and convoluted shell shape as far down inside her ear canal as I could see.

How could this happen in a healthy four-month-old puppy? I have had several other Weimaraners and actually only one of them had a tar factory inside his ear like Wanda does — while the others had a bit of pale wax in their ears that looked a lot like what people can form. Just as with people, some dogs form more wax in their ears than others, and while I’ve heard it said this can be a result of poor nutrition or an “allergy” to chicken, I know that cannot be true since all my dogs have always had a super diet, and eaten Halo kibble as part of their meal and some have yucky ears and others do not. I guess I just got “lucky” with Wanda, because she also has goopy eyes, which is a first among all the different dogs I have ever had. I’ve been using the Halo holistic eye drops, which clears up her eye discharge in a just a few days, so I figured I’d try the Cloud Nine herbal ear wash and see if that didn’t straighten out my little girl’s icky ears!

I know that the vet sells a few different drops for dirty ears, but I really liked the idea of the natural and gentle ingredients in Cloud Nine — witch hazel, chamomile, sage, clove, calendula, and St. John’s wort, among others — so I decided to start holistically and see what results I got. I heated the bottle in warm water (the way I had been instructed to do with the Halo eye drops) and used a dropper to drip the herbal ear wash into Wanda’s ear canal; I massaged it on the outside to get it deep into her ear to help loosen and bring up the tarry stuff. I wrapped a tissue around my finger and cleaned out the area I could reach, fairly grossed out by how much nasty black tarry stuff I was wiping out! The great news was that Wanda didn’t mind the liquid going into her ear and seemed to take pleasure in the ear massage that followed it — and then seemed to get relief as I wiped as far into her ear canal as my finger could reach, relieving what must have been quite an irritation.

The wonderful result was that by morning the underside of her ear was as clean and pretty as the outside of it — the redness inside had passed and there was no sign of the black deposit. From now on I just have to remember to take a peek every week, because she’s the kind of girl who is high maintenance in the personal hygiene department, but at least I have pure and gentle Cloud Nine solutions to the problem. And I can always hope that maybe she’ll grow out of it?!

—Tracie Hotchner

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photo credit: Dekster via photopin (license)