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Caring For Your Labrador's Face & Ears

After a day of hunting or a run in overgrown terrain, a Labrador retriever's eyes and ears should be inspected for signs of embedded objects or scratches. The ear can be easily inspected with the aid of a small flashlight to help you see the upper interior. It is quite easy for burrs to become entangled in or around the ear canal, or for tiny seeds to work their way under the eyelids and irritate the eye.

The dog will react to such irritants by pawing at the spot, often causing more damage by scraping the surface raw and inviting infection. If the dog is continuously rubbing these areas and no cut or embedded object is visible, there may be an abrasion that will require a salve to remove the sting and aid in healing.

Ear troubles are also indicated when a dog constantly shakes its head, rubs its head against the ground, produces an excessive amount of visible ear wax, or if there is a foul odor from the ear's interior. If the dog reacts violently to an inspection of the ear or if there is redness or swelling, it probably is suffering from an inflammation that must be treated topically by your veterinarian (antibiotics are sometimes required also). Such inflammations can be the result of a variety of causes, such as parasitic mites or bacterial infections, so an accurate diagnosis is imperative.

You can help to alleviate the normal buildup of wax and dirt in the ear by routinely swabbing the easily accessible areas of the ear with a cotton ball wet with a little warm water. Ointments made specifically for cleaning the outer ear can be purchased from pet shops, grooming parlors, or your veterinarian if cleanliness is a continual problem.

Avoid oily compounds, as they may leave a sticky residue that will retain dirt. Do not probe into the ear canal during cleaning, as this can be very damaging and extremely painful for the dog. Clean only the exposed area.

If you suspect that the ear is becoming clogged, bring the dog to the veterinarian for a more thorough cleaning. You should ask for instructions on how to perform this procedure at home if the problem is chronic.

To remove small amounts of discharge that may collect around the corners of the eye, carefully dab it away with a damp, clean, lint-free cloth. If the dog continues to blink excessively or if the eye is red, consult your veterinarian. Minor irritations can quickly become serious, so special attention must be paid to any tearing or discharge from these sensitive areas.

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