If you’re trying to figure out how to get water out of a dog’s ear, there’s a good chance you’re worried about Otitis Externa (a fancy word for an ear infection from water).
Dogs tend to suffer from Otitis Externa quite a bit because the ear canal of a dog is much longer and has a much different shape than the ear canal of a human. The length and shape of the ear canal offer many benefits for the dog, but one of the downsides is water becomes easily trapped in the ear. This is especially true for dogs with floppy ears (although they’re super cute!!)
To get water out of a dog’s ear, start off by using a cotton ball to dry the external canal. Now pour a few drops of drying liquid in your dog’s ear (you can purchase drying liquid from any pet store) and massage the base of the ear for about two minutes. Make sure you only do one ear at a time.
Below we will go into more details on the method mentioned above and then talk about when to see the vet.
Dangers of Allowing Water to Stay in The Ear
The biggest danger of allowing water to stay trapped in a dog’s ear for too long is it creates the perfect environment for a fungal or yeast infection.
Once the dog gets an infection, a visit to the vet is required. Infections that go untreated can cause a lot of pain and even lead to complete loss of hearing.
How to Tell if Water is in The Ear?
Now that you know the dangers of allowing water to stay trapped in your dog’s ear, the next logical question would be, “How in the world am I supposed to know if water is trapped in my dog’s ear!?”
That’s a great question, it’s not like fido can just tell you “Hey, I’ve got water trapped in my ear”…or can he?
Dogs obviously can’t communicate with words, but they CAN communicate with body language. Here are the most common signs that water is trapped in your dog’s ear.
- Rubbing paws on ears after several hours of being exposed to water.
- Shaking head for several hours after being exposed to water.
- Obvious signs of discomfort such as rubbing the ears against the floor
If your dog just went swimming or you gave them a bath, and they’re showing the above signs, there’s a good chance water is stuck in their ear.
The Two Step Method to Get Water Out of Your Dogs Ear
As long as you handle the situation promptly (before your dog gets an infection), getting water out of the ear of your dog is a simple two step process. It involves drying the outside of the ear, then using special liquid to dry the inside of the ear.
Step 1: Dry The External Canal
For this step, all you’ll need is a cotton ball. Take the cotton ball and dry both the outside of the ear and the external canal (the parts of the ear you can see from the outside). Don’t try to go into the internal canal (the parts of the ear you can’t see).
You can even use this time to clean your dog’s ears by using a veterinarian approved ear cleaning solution. Just pour some of the solution onto a cotton ball and proceed to wipe down the visible parts of the ear.
Something like Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced would be a great option.
Step 2: Use OTC Drying Liquid
Sound kind of odd to drop some liquid down your dog’s ear to dry it out, doesn’t it? The reason these liquid drops work so well is that they have powerful natural drying properties…in other words, they help evaporate water.
If you take a trip to the pet store, you’ll find quite a few options. Make sure you avoid anything that has rubbing alcohol or witch hazel. These two properties are found in several drying liquids, but if your dog has sensitive skin, it can cause burning and severe discomfort. Although it won’t be harmful to all dogs, it’s best not to take the risk.
Here are a few of our favorite options:
Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry for Dogs
This product uses all natural ingredients, the main ones being aloe vera, clove oil, and calendula. It does not contain alcohol or witch hazel. If your dog has developed an ear infection, this product will help with both the odor and the itching.
Dr. Gold’s Ear Therapy for Dogs
This product contains ingredients that will not only help evaporate the liquid inside the ear but also contains anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that will help prevent your dog from getting an ear infection.
Professional Pet Products Pet Ear-Dry Solution
The main ingredients in this product are aloe vera, propylene glycol, and malic acid. This product is excellent if your dog loves swimming because it’s gentle enough to use daily (and drying the ears should be something you do each time they swim).
How to Use The Liquid
Don’t feel limited to just those three products. If you take a trip to the pet store, you’ll probably find a few more options. Just make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol or witch hazel, and you should be good.
Now that you know what to look for in a drying liquid, let’s talk about how to use it.
Put Several Drops in Ear Canal
Start off by having your dog lay down on their side. You may need to force them into that position, which is why it’s helpful if you have someone else helping. Put several drops in the ear canal. However, before you do this, make sure you first followed step 1 and dried the external canal.
Repeat if Dog Immediately Shakes Head
Just a word of warning, unless your dog is used to getting their ears handles, they are NOT going to like this. If your dog immediately shakes their head, there’s a good chance that they just shook out all the liquid you tried pouring down. If that happens, go ahead and repeat, but this time make sure they don’t shake their head.
Massage Base of Ear For 2-3 Minutes
Once you pour the drops in the ear, you’ll want to massage the base of their ear for about 2-3 minutes. This will help speed up the water evaporation process. The best part is most dogs love this part!
Let Your Dog Shake Their Head
After 2-3 minutes of massaging, you can let your dog stand up. Right when they do, they’ll most likely shake their head. At this point, that’s ok, the water should already be gone.
Dry The Ear
When your dog shakes their head, some debris from the drops might come out. You’ll want to take a cotton ball and dry the external canal one more time.
Repeat On Other Ear
You should do this process on both ears even if it doesn’t seem like your dog has water trapped in the other ear. You should also do this on both ears each time your dog goes for a swim, or you give them a bath. Even if they don’t have any water trapped in their ears, it still helps clean the ears, which is always a good thing!
Quick Tip – Most dogs hate going through this process because they aren’t used to their ears being handled. If you have a puppy, be sure to handle their ears from a young age, that way when they’re an adult, they’ll already be used to it. If you have an adult dog, try handling their ears daily even if you aren’t putting the drops in.
Make Your Own Ear Drying Liquid
Although there are several liquids you can purchase at a pet store, you can easily make your own with just two ingredients. Simply combine hydrogen peroxide with an equal amount of water. Make sure you use a dropper when using on your dog. You can purchase droppers for a few bucks on Amazon.
The benefit of making your own is the cost. You can get hydrogen peroxide for a dollar, and water is free! This combination is also gentle enough to use every day.
Preventing Water From Getting In Your Dogs Ears
The best way to prevent Otitis Externa is to prevent water from getting in the ears in the first place. There are several things you can do to lower the chances of an ear infection caused by water.
Block Ear Canal With Large Cotton Ball
This might not work if your dog will be going for a swim in the pool or lake, but if you’re giving your dog a bath, it works great! Most dogs will hate it at first, but will eventually get used to it. Just take a large cotton ball and place it gently in your dog’s ears. This will block water from getting into the canal.
Use a Drying Liquid Each Time They Swim or Bathe
Even if water didn’t get into the ear, you’re better off safe than sorry! Each time your dog is exposed to water, use a gentle drying liquid.
Don’t Pour Water Over The Dog’s Head
We’ve all been guilty of using a pitcher to pour water over our dog’s head when giving them a bath. What you probably didn’t realize is that this increases the chances of water trapped in the ears. Instead of pouring water over the head, use a damp cloth.
When to Visit The Vet
If you take immediate action and follow the steps above, the chances of your dog getting an infection are slim. However, if you suspect your dog might have an infection, a trip to the vet is required.
Here are the common ear infection signs:
- Unusual odor
- Pressing the ears against the ground
- Constantly scratching the ears
- Shaking the head (usually tilting toward the infected side)
- Discharge from the ear (often a dark discharge)
- Noticeable pain when you touch the ears
If you’ve noticed one or several of those signs, it’s best to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Getting Water Out of Your Dogs Ear is a Simple Process
One of the main reasons for trips to the vet is due to ear infections from the water. This is unfortunate since getting water out a dog’s ear is such a simple process. It comes down to a two step process.
- Dry the external canal
- Use a drying liquid
So next time your furry friend takes a bath or goes for a swim, simply follow those two steps and the risk of infection will go down significantly.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.