Q: I have an English Cocker Spaniel at home, and, as this breed is notorious for ear problems, I was hoping you had some tips about how to clean the dog's ears safely and effectively. I usually take her to the groomers, but I was not very pleased with her grooming last time. Help!

A: Cleaning ears is extra important for dogs like spaniels, hounds, or other breeds with long, floppy ears. Buy an ear cleansing solution from your local pet store (like Veterinarian's Best Ear Relief Wash & Dry). For droopy-eared pooches, first hold the ear up and back. Either soak a cotton swab with the liquid or squirt the solution into your pet's ear (per the instructions on the bottle). After cleansing, massage the dog's head directly under his ears for about 30 seconds to allow the solution to penetrate.

Allow the dog to shake out the excess liquid. Be careful not to let go of your pup's head before you massage it in so he doesn't shake it out before it can work! If your pup's ears have wax or debris, next use a soft cloth to wipe them out. Never insert a cloth down the ear canal! Finally, hold your pet's ears back to allow them to dry and consider applying an ear drying cream or powder to speed the process. Remember, talk in a soothing voice to your pet during this time and, if during any part, he seems troubled, schedule an appointment with a vet or groomer. This way, you can get an expert tutorial.

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