A Chihuahua’s Guide to Ear Cleaning & Self-Care – Dogster

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Hi, I’m Dr. Karyn. Read my introduction to learn more about me and my five funny dogs, Poppy, Bailey, Kodah, Ned, and Fred.

I know that we aren’t supposed to have favorites, but if you follow my weekly stories, it will become pretty obvious that, whilst I love all my dogs, Ned holds a special place in my heart. Weighing in at just under 4 lbs, this pint-sized pup had me 100% wrapped around his tiny paw from the moment he came home with me, a little over a year ago.

Our oldest dog, Poppy, has witnessed several additions to her pack over the years, always with a look of dismay and resignation. Although she wasn’t exactly thrilled with the arrival of little Ned, he has gradually endeared himself to her with his strange little obsession: cleaning ears.

His petite features make him uniquely qualified to reach every nook and cranny, and Poppy has gone from tolerating his attentions to actively seeking them out. It’s hard to say who’s reaping the most benefits from this little arrangement, but it seems to keep them both happy.

Ned wriggled his way into Poppy's good books.
Ned wriggled his way into Poppy’s good books.

Why Does Ned Like To Clean Ears?

Whenever I think about this, my mind invariably wanders to Albus Dumbledore’s disappointment on sampling an “every flavor bean” – Alas, earwax!

Being something I (thankfully) have not tried myself, I can’t venture an opinion on the palatability of aural excretions, but I can’t imagine it would be amazing. Of course, the things that pass for tasty in the canine world are often far removed from my idea of a treat.

So maybe it’s the earwax flavor that keeps Ned coming back, although the frequency with which he treats Poppy to this bespoke service means that there is rarely any wax to be had. Perhaps the sensation of delving into the cartilaginous depths is what he finds appealing, or maybe it’s his way of ingratiating himself with the canine matriarch of the house.

Sadly, it is yet another question for which I will never have an answer. What I do know is that Poppy certainly seems to have become rather fond of Neddy’s Day Spa.

Why Does Poppy Let Ned Clean Her Ears?

When Ned first started diving headfirst into Poppy’s ears, her reaction wasn’t exactly encouraging. Being relatively new to the household, Ned was really pushing the boundaries with this startling maneuver, and it was not entirely well received. Not one to be deterred easily, Ned persisted in his efforts, gradually wearing down his quarry.

One evening I was amused by the sight of this 1.8kg dog pushing the 30kg Labrador onto her side, clearly with her cooperation, before commencing his (now) nightly ritual. Her reaction had evolved from revulsion to tolerance to eyes-closed bliss, and her affection towards Ned, and his off-sider, Fred, has noticeably increased.

As you would expect, Poppy’s enjoyment of Ned’s attention means that the frequency of these little spa sessions has gradually increased, and I often find them curled up together. Regardless of the original motivation for this little arrangement, the impact on their relationship has been a positive one, so I am not about to object.

Poppy has gone from tolerating to enjoying her treatments.
Poppy has gone from tolerating to enjoying her treatments.

Is It Safe For Dogs to Clean Each Other’s Ears?

There is some concern that Ned’s constant aural attention could lead to an ear infection, but with careful monitoring, there has been no evidence of any problems to date. It is, however, something we need to watch out for.

Interestingly, I have had two opposing situations amongst my patients at work.

One dog called Mitch, was constantly suffering from ear infections, and it wasn’t until their other dog passed away, that the owners made the link between their late pet’s ear-licking habit and Mitch’s recurrent otitis. Without the near-constant presence of a wet tongue, his ears could finally dry out and we managed to get rid of his ear infection once and for all.

The opposite was true for Lucy. This sweet Jack Russell Terrier had never had ear trouble, and her older companion, Blaze, had always been obsessed with cleaning her ears. When Blaze was put to sleep at the impressive age of 15, Lucy started getting ear infections several times a year.

Obviously, two cases are not enough to draw any significant conclusions about the pros and cons of aural allogrooming, but it tells me that I don’t need to intervene just yet; something that both groomer and groomee will be pleased to hear!

Self-Care Is Important – Just Ask Ned

Before Chihuahuas entered my life, I had always believed that cats were the true masters of indulgence and self-care, but these tiny dogs seem to have luxury well and truly sussed. Apart from keeping his matriarch’s ears spotlessly clean, Ned has a few other items on his list of self-care priorities:

1. Eat healthy and stay hydrated

Ned Tip #1: Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
Ned Tip #1: Eat healthy and stay hydrated.

2. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want

Ned Tip #2 Don't be afraid to go after what you want.
Ned Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to go after what you want.

3. Get plenty of beauty sleep

Ned Tip #3 Get plenty of beauty sleep.
Ned Tip #3: Get plenty of beauty sleep.

4. Surround yourself with powerful friends

Ned Tip #4 Surround yourself with powerful friends.
Ned Tip #4: Surround yourself with powerful friends.

5. Never miss an opportunity

Ned Tip #5 Never miss an opportunity.
Ned Tip #5: Never miss an opportunity.

Look, I’m not saying that Ned has all the answers, but there are certainly worse role models out there!


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