Beagle Ears: A Floppy Guide
Beagle ears — we’ve all seen them in action.
A beagle with his or her head sticking out of one of the rear windows of a passing vehicle. The air catching their ears in such a fashion that it looks like they’re ready to take flight. You can’t help but smile just a little bit.
A beagle’s ears are in lay-terms called floppy. However, they are officially known as drop or pendant ears.
Dilemma Of The Droop
Due to the size and shape of their ears, much of the airflow is occluded. This can lead to excess wax buildup and due to the dark, moist environment of their ears; bacteria can grow, leaving them more prone to ear infections.
Can I Clean The Ears of My Beagle?
Yes, and you can. Generally, once every 2 to 3 weeks should be sufficient for keeping them clean. However, your veterinarian may recommend ear cleanings more frequently, if your beagle tends to have issues. Routine cleaning can curb potential ear problems, as it should help decrease the frequency.
What Causes Ear Infections In Beagles?
Ear mites are usually found in their ear canal, but they can live on the surface of the skin as well. Fortunately, ear mites typically do not affect humans. They are however barely visible to the human eye and highly contagious. For the same of keeping your stomach in check, I won’t post a picture of them. I will provide this mental image though: A dark brown ear wax, which is similar in appearance to coffee grounds. If you wish to see it first hand, feel free to open another Internet browser and Google ‘ear mites’.
What Are The Clinical Symptoms Of Ear Mites?
Clinical symptoms of an ear mite infestation vary in severity from one animal to the next. Typically they encompass:
- Ear irritation causing head shaking or scratching at the ears.
- Discharge; color may vary.
- Dark wax or discharge from their ear(s)
- Crusted rash around or inside of the ear
- A pungent aroma from their ear canal
- Aural hematoma, caused by a rupture of small blood vessels between the skin and cartilage
- Targeted areas of hair loss from self-trauma caused by excessive grooming and scratching.
How Do Ear Mites Get Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is made by observing the activity of mites. Your beagle’s ears will be examined at the veterinarian’s office by an otoscope or by microscopic examination of discharge from the ear. If their ears are particularly sensitive due to the irritation, your beagle may require sedation to allow them to be properly examined and treated.
How Is Your Beagle Treated For Eat Mites?
Ear mites mainly live in the ear canal, where they feed on skin debris. Eggs are laid in the ear, and it takes 3 weeks for them to hatch and develop into adult mites that can continually reproduce. Adult mites can live up to 2 months.
Your veterinarian will likely prescribe insecticidal medication, depending on the severity. He or she may prescribe topical ointments, antibiotics, injectables, medicated drops or single-use medicine. The infection should clear up within a week or two. The medicine will not penetrate their eggs or pupae, it only affects the larvae and adults. Follow up appointments are common, as your veterinarian will wish to ensure that the mites have been successfully eradicated.
How to Prevent My Beagle From Getting Ear Mites
Ear mite infestations are transmitted through social interaction with other infected dogs, cats, or other animals. This can even include while sleeping. It is imperative to double-check any animals that your beagle may interact with.
Bacteria or Fungi
Infections of these types; occur due to the warm, dark and moist areas of the ear.
Beagles usually love the water — regardless of its a dunk in the pool, lake or the bathtub. Actually, the bathtub much less so. Why is that?
Nevertheless, water can get occasionally lodged in their ear canal, progressing into an infection.
Excessive Wax Buildup
All dogs have some degree of wax. Earwax acts as an important barrier that assists in lubrication and cleaning, in addition to protection from bacteria, fungi, insects, and water.
Recurring Ear Infections
As valiant as your and your veterinarian’s efforts may be, some beagles have ear problems that are chronic in nature. Extensive testing may be required to determine the root cause.
It’s absolutely essential to narrow down the cause as soon as possible, as any level of infection could potentially cause scarring inside of their ear, leading to even more serious long-term health complications.
The main cause of a beagle experiencing recurring infections in their ears is allergies (especially food-borne). Which if it is indeed that, the prognosis is excellent. To learn more about allergies, we’ve talked about them extensively here: Beagle Allergies? The Signs & Symptoms
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is essentially bacteria that was never fully eradicated. Think of it as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The antibiotics may have been very effective on some bacteria, but not on the others.
Your veterinarian will swab some of their ear wax to determine if it is pseudomonas. A Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain can be successfully ejected by either Enrofloxacin or Orbifloxacin, which are potent antibiotics.
Vertical Canal Surgery
If the cause cannot be ascertained and medicines have been rendered ineffectual, surgery may be an aggressive but viable option. The surgeon will thoroughly clean and treat the beagle’s surgically-opened vertical canal.
As I mentioned earlier in the article — chronic ear infections can lead to extensive scarring in the ear canal. So much so, that in the most severe cases, the auditory canal can nearly close. The procedure is called ablation. It entails a specialized veterinarian removing the entire ear canal, allowing healthy tissues to grow in its place.
How To Clean Your Beagle’s Ears
Generally, cleaning the ears of your beagle is safe and effective. However, you may want to consult your veterinarian beforehand, just to be on the safe side.
The items you’ll need are:
- Canine ear cleaning solution
- Cotton balls or sterile gauze pads
I prefer an ear cleaning solution in a squeeze drop bottle over the ear cleansing wipes because the drops penetrate more thoroughly into their ear canal. How? Well, when your beagle naturally shakes their head, it actually helps to disperse the liquid throughout. If you’re low on some, an effective and inexpensive canine ear cleaning solution is available here on Amazon: Pet MD – Otic Cleanser For Canines.
I tend to prefer sterile gauze over cotton balls, cause I don’t like the lint cotton balls can leave. Here are sterile gauze pads, if you need them too from Amazon: Band-Aid – Tru-Absorb Gauze Sponges
Now that that’s done. Let’s begin:
- Have your items within an arm’s reach. You can decide to have your beagle sit or stand on a towel if you think it’ll get a little messy. If you’re really paranoid, just bring them into the bathtub.
- While holding the flap of an ear, squeeze solution liberally into that same ear. Proceed to massage the base of their ear for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute. They likely will shake their heads during this or after, and that is to be expected.
- Afterward, you’ll want to take a sterilized gauze pad and carefully wipe all areas that are visible to you.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 for the other ear.
Caution – Do not use a swab to clean the canal. This could cause injury. The solution is specifically meant to loosen any wax buildup and other debris and to facilitate it exiting their outer ear, where it can be wiped away effectively. If you do still believe that there is wax buildup that simply is being stubborn, consult your veterinarian for guidance.
When Can A Beagle First Hear Sound?
Oddly enough, while they have superior aural skills with those adorable, floppy ears; dogs are born deaf with closed ear canals. For most dogs, once they’ve reached the age of 10 days to 14 days old, their ear canals will open. If they don’t seem to hear within a week after that, they should be tested for deafness by their veterinarian. However, since most people adopt beagles that are already at least one month older than that, likely they’ve been checked for hearing. However, if you’ve already adopted your beagle; and you suspect something may be amiss: snap your fingers outside of their field of view, but close enough that you can observe any reaction. If they look around accordingly, it can’t hurt to have their hearing double-checked.
How Well Can A Beagle Hear Sound?
Beagles have an extraordinarily acute sense of hearing. While their sense of smell is nearly infamous, their hearing is not too far behind. As a matter of fact: Beagles can hear sounds 4 times farther (or stronger) than humans do. You know you’ve seen it when your beagle cocks his or her head from side-to-side, trying to decipher what and where the sound is, that they are honing in on. I’ll give you an example: You’re in the middle of reading a book with your window open. Out of the blue, your beagle high-tails it for the door, barking like mad. A minute or so later, you begin to hear the faint chimes of the ice-cream truck pulling into your cul-de-sac. Amazing, right?
Humans comparatively hear in the 20 and 20,00Hz range. Beagles can hear frequencies in the 40 to 60,000Hz range. This is why they can hear many of the sounds that we simply cannot.
Yet another characteristic that makes beagle’s hearing superior to us is their ear muscles. Fundamentally, the structure of the ear is relatively similar to humans with the exception of their ear muscles. A beagle has over 18 muscles in their ears to help target the location of a sound. The movement capabilities of their ears along with their sensitive hearing range allows them to triangulate quite easily.
One final characteristic that stands out for them is their selective hearing. No, I don’t mean when you yell “NO!”, and they proceed to do an action like a spoiled brat. I mean that they have the unique ability to selectively dial up or down certain sounds like a filter. I’ll give you another example: Ever noticed that your beagle can sleep through music cranked up loudly, but immediately perks up as soon as they hear their treat bag open? Yup, I thought so.
Just by knowing what to look out for reactively, and by taking steps proactively, managing to keep your beagle happier and healthier long-term, should be that much easier.
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