and top knot styles are what distinguishes a poodle from any number of other curly haired dog breeds or other poodle hybrids.
A big top knot and long fluffy ears need regular brushing and combing out in order to avoid matting. Ears that are heavy with long hair, need special attention to make sure that no issues are arising inside the ears. The weight of the hair in combination of the size of the ear flap itself, may prevent proper air flow inside the ear canal that can cause a number of health problems, which can be avoided by regular ear check ups and maintenance.
For most poodles that is something that needs to be done regularly, and is usually done during a routine vet visit [ask for this] or more likely by your groomer [included in most groomers bath and groom services]. This is somewhat painful for the dog if not done right, and goes easier and faster with ear powder. I will discuss this in more detail in the home grooming section when I write about it.
Cleaning your puppy's ears.
This is something that should be routinely done when the pup is bathed, but won't hurt to check in between baths either. Simply take a cotton pad or ball, drizzle a bit of witch hazel, your clear facial cleaner or if you have none – a bit of rubbing alcohol onto the cotton pad. If you own several dogs, or have one that produces proliferate amounts of ear wax, you might want to invest in a good ear cleaning solution. Wipe out the inside of the ear, dip into the ear canal and clean out the folds. Depending on if it is simply dirt from playing outside or natural occurring ear grease or more – that is it for basic ear cleaning. Easy, huh?
Really filthy ears need to be washed with water and shampoo while being bathed. There is that myth that water in the ear causes ear infections or deafness – not so unless we are already dealing with a dog that is heavily susceptible to ear infections in the first place. When you shampoo the pup or dog, simply put a dab of shampoo onto your finger tip and use it to clean the inside of the ear, not forcing the finger deeper than it will naturally go – which is not far for a pup, and depending on the size of the adult poodle to about the first digit. When you rinse, do the same with clean fingers and then use the towel during drying to wick up extra moisture. A good head shake will usually take care of the rest ;o).
Ear mites are probably the most frequent ear problem and in a severe case you will easily be able to recognize them. If your pup scratches a lot on head and ears, if you pet the head and it leans into your hand, or grumbles when you rub the ear – have a closer look. A bad ear mite infection looks like dirty, crumbly coffee grounds clumped up. It can be from dry and crumbly to being a smeary balled up mess, that when separated looks somewhat flaky. And there are usually entire truck loads way down in the ears of that, by the time you notice that something is amiss.
Solution #1: See a vet and have them do a check, and get meds for it. Especially important if you have other pets [check them too], as ear mites are passed from host to host and can be a real pain to treat in cats. Be sure to along with treatment also give the dog – especially the neck area, shoulder, top knot and ears as well as the back feet a very thorough shampoo [medicated would be good in this case, but any will do!]. Most treatments need to be repeated within 14 days, in order to get newly hatched mites that emerged after the initial treatment. Did I mention to wash the bedding and the collar as well? Remember to bathe and clean the bedding again at the same time of the repeat treatment.
Solution #2: There are various over the counter washes and meds – some that do not work at all, and others that may. I stopped looking for them a long time ago, as I use Ivomec for heartworm treatment for our dogs, and this is an excellent mite killer as well. I'm sorry – I don't have an over the counter recommendation for you.
Yeasty Ear Infections
These are a bit different from the regular ear infection mentioned below, as it is caused by yeast. A sniff will tell you that something is off. Again – itchy ears, often scratched until they start bleeding, watery discharge, and an overall miserable, high pitched whining during scratching and restless dog. See your vet, this too will require veterinary interaction and may be harder to treat than a regular ear infection as they often tend to come back.
Clipping the hair on the ears shorter or shaving them to remove weight and allow more air flow also seems to help in addition to treatment for yeast. A dog that has frequent yeast infections, might need to be upgraded to a better quality dog food, as these can be caused by poor quality feed in addition to other causes as well.
Ear infections are extremely painful to a dog, and often present themselves with heads turned slightly sideways, constant ear shaking, lots of scratching often combined with high pitched whining or a deep groaning. They can be caused by a number of variants including injuries, foreign objects stuck in the ear, and from excessive scratching due to ear mites. Some dogs are simply more prone to them than others. On bad cases where the infection has not been noticed right away, the ear canal will be hot and swollen and puss may be running out – very bad smelling. Very painful. Don't play around, go see a vet. This will take oral antibiotics along with ear drops to heal up, don't wait! This type of ear infection will get progressively worse and can cause irretrievable damage to ear drums and hearing.