Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Dog’s Ears

There are few things in nature that are more amazing than a dog’s ears. Canine hearing is seven times more acute than a human’s. They can hear sounds far above the pitches their owners can detect. Dog ears come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, just like the dogs themselves. But what makes those ears twitch?

Twitching ears, hearing and communication

A dog has 18 muscles that control its ears. They can be rotated 180 degrees, pulled back out of the way or raised like furry flags. Even floppy-eared dogs can move the part of the ear closest to their heads. All this motion serves two very important purposes: hearing and communication.

Dog Perking Its EarsDogs turn their heads to locate the source of a noise, just as humans do — then they take it one step further. By rotating or cocking its ears independently of each other, your dog can precisely target an intruder, a squeaking rodent or a potential playmate.

Ears are also used to communicate with people and with other dogs. A dog with its ears forward is paying close attention to something. It may also be aggressive, so watch for other body language clues. When a dog feels comfortable, the ears will be in their normal position. Ears that are pulled back a little signal a friendly mood, while ears that are flattened mean the dog is feeling nervous or frightened.

Ear care to keep that hearing sharp

Dogs have long, L-shaped ear canals that make them prone to ear infections and parasites such as ear mites. Any ear problem could result in a loss of hearing and should be taken seriously. Ear mite droppings look like tiny pieces of grit or dirt. Infections may cause secretions with the appearance of dirty ear wax. In both cases, your dog may shake its head or scratch its ears vigorously.

Normal ear cleaning can be done with a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil. There are also special ear cleaning solutions available. Most canine hearing loss is caused by untreated infections, so talk to your vet if your dog’s ears are giving it trouble.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s hearing, call 504-835-4266 to schedule an appointment with one of Metairie Small Animal Hospital’s experienced vets today!

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