Because they have floppy ears that hang down over the ear canal, Beagles are subject to a number of potential ear problems. That includes a higher chance of wax buildup, yeast, and infections. Fortunately, none of those is inevitable and they are all easy to prevent or treat.
Waxy buildup, leading to yeast growth, is more likely with Beagles and other hounds because their long ears don’t allow for airflow to cool or dry out the canal. That warm moisture is the perfect growing environment for those small organisms. Yeast infections produce a distinctive foul odor and appear as a crumbly, waxy buildup of material in the canal and folds of the ear flap.
Regular cleansing is the most basic preventive measure and it is highly effective, if done correctly. That isn’t hard, but it does take a commitment and diligence.
The first step actually takes place before you pull out a cotton ball or cleanser. Your Beagle has to be comfortable with being handled. Frequent, gentle touching beginning when young is a must. Handle the ear flap, stroke it softly and give it a slight tug, then a scratch behind the ear and a light poke inside with the finger. Those actions train your Beagle that such intrusions are loving, not punitive.
Then after a few weeks you can begin regular cleansing routines. The procedure is best done before the monthly bath. Commercial liquids from your vet are perfectly formulated, but often very expensive. As an alternative, a 50-50 mix of 5% vinegar and pure water in a small squirt bottle can work wonders. If the room where it’s stored is cold, it can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds. Test it on your hand to ensure it’s neither cold nor hot.
Hold down your Beagle (they’ll resist, work up to it with some belly rubs), then squirt some into the ear canal. Hold a hand firmly on the chest and head to prevent premature head shaking. Massage the ear from the outside. Then, let them up and be prepared for a violent shaking. That loosens wax and propels it out of the canal. Repeat with the other ear.
For stubborn yeast deposits you can use a Q-tip. But exercise extreme caution. It’s imperative to make sure you are pulling the material out of the ear, not shoving it further in. Plugging the ear canal can quickly lead to infections. Never insert the Q-tip farther than you can see. Instead, rely on the cleansing solution to soften and loosen any material, which is thrown out by the dog’s head shake.
For more serious problems, a vet visit is a must. If ear mites are detected, they can be killed with a simple gel. Their bites often lead to small, red wounds that may get infected. Antibiotics such as Neomycin (Animax) can clear those up in no time. Or, your vet may prescribe an anti-fungal medicine such as Conofite if the problem is a fungus, a common problem with dogs who snoop through bushes, ears dragging on the ground, like Beagles.
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