German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are very healthy dogs but like most breeds susceptible to particular ailments. A German Shepherd’s ears are one of her strongest attributes but need to be kept clean and can be prone to infections.
The usual sources that should be kept in check to prevent potential inflammations are:
- Long hair can get into the ear both through growing from around the back of the ear and shedding.
- As German Shepherds like to brush past bushes and through grass when out walking, all kinds of detritus, especially seeds, get into their ears.
- Occasionally, overactive glands in the ear secrete the equivalent of ear wax which can get trapped quite deep in the ear.
- Water from swimming or bathing often lodges for a short time, despite the dog’s efforts to shake it out vigorously.
The usual telltale sign of ear irritation, in the majority of cases usually of a minor nature, will be your German Shepherd trying to remove the irritation herself. At this point it is always worth checking for and if necessary removing anything obvious. In my experience, if nothing can be seen, it can be left for a short time and see if a problem recurs, because in many cases it will clear itself.
Cleaning the ear & removing detritus:
Keeping your pet’s fur trimmed around the outer ear, preventing matting below the ear as well are good precautions. Don’t cut the fur too short or it can very occasionally become ingrowing, creating further problems.
Dealing with something inside the upper ear must be done with great care and I would strongly advise not probing too much in your dog’s ears. However, in an adult dog, the ears are quite large and a gentle wash with a soft cloth around the top of the ear or even using cotton buds on areas you can clearly see, providing you make no attempt to go beyond that, will resolve the majority of cases. Mixing a very low concentration (say about 5%) vinegar with water makes a solution that will usually help.
If your pet continues beyond two to three days to show signs of discomfort, then a visit to the vet is in order.
In my 40 years of experience with dogs including long-haired German Shepherds, despite many instances of ear irritation, using the above practices has meant it has never escalated. However, this is one of those ailments that is worth being aware of how to deal with in these easy stages, but like most, at some point, it’s time for veterinary expertise.