Health, Cleaning & Hearing


Dogs are born deaf but within weeks their world is nowhere as quiet as the one we experience because their hearing range is about double that of ours. Humans have a hearing/frequency range between 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz, whereas dogs have a range of 67 Hz- 45,000 Hz.

Hearing - How Does Dogs’ Hearing Compare To Humans’?

Your dog may react to sounds you cannot hear with curiosity, excitement, anxiety, etc… and may have trouble settling no matter how many times you tell them there is nothing there and everything is “okay”. To your dog, they are experiencing a different reality. They can hear termites in the wall, and the ultrasonic sound a rodent makes. [1]  They can hear the squirrels, gophers, and moles that are below ground.

Dogs can distinguish slight variations in sounds and some are able to recognize the engine of their owner’s car approaching the house, [2] or more specifically they likely recognize the pattern of your driving. [3]  During Pavlov’s experiments on dogs he learned that even the slightest sounds from our perspective such as a conversation in another room, someone walking outside the room, or a door heard slamming could be distracting for the dogs and interfere with learning. [4]

Key Reason for Doggie Vet Visits but Largely Preventable

Ear Problems

“A normal, clean canine ear canal is a healthy pink color with no unpleasant odor. When inflammation or infection is present, you may notice your dog shaking her head more than usual, scratching at her ears or rubbing her head against the floor. The ear canal is typically red, and there can be an unpleasant smell as well.”

“There are two basic types of ear problems in dogs: chronic inflammation and infection. Untreated inflammation can lead to infection. If your dog's ears are warm to the touch, red, swollen or itchy, but there's little to no discharge, chances are the problem is inflammation. However, if one or more of those symptoms is present along with obvious discharge, it's usually a sign of infection.”

  1. There are several potential causes for ear problems, the most common of which is a food or environmental allergy; moisture in the ears, heavy wax buildup and foreign material in the ear canal can be contributors as well

  2. Ear infections in dogs can be fungal (e.g., yeast), or more commonly, bacterial; bacterial ear infections that are resistant to conventional antimicrobials can often be effectively managed with natural remedies




Cleaning Ears

If your dog appears to have a problems with his ears see your veterinarian before you attempt to clean them on your dog. If your dog has a foxtail in the ear, or an infection has led to rupture of the eardrum you do not want to clean his ears without consulting your vet.

I use cotton balls and sterile pads to clean debris from the folds and crevices inside the ears. “Dog ear canals are very different from human ear canals because they enter the head vertically and then take a 90 degree turn. This means that the ear drum is quite far down in your dog’s ear and is virtually impossible to injure using just your finger and a cotton ball. Do not be afraid to insert your finger deep inside your dog’s ear.

This is the most common entry point of foxtails in dogs, and below are some of the signs you may see.

  • Excessive head shaking

  • Pawing at their ear(s)

  • Whimpering and pulling away when you try to pet or touch their head

  • Head tilt

  • Redness and/or discharge coming from the ear


Foxtails in the Ears

RISK: Chronic irritation, infections, eardrum damage, deafness.

SYMPTOMS: Head tilting or head shaking.

FIRST AID: Squirting mineral oil into the ear to soften the awn is a common recommendation. But Dr. Randy Acker, author of Field Guide to Dog First Aid: Emergency Care for the Outdoor Dog, cautions against it; if the eardrum has been damaged, the oil will do more harm than good. Get to a vet as quickly as possible.

TREATMENT: The vet examines the ear with an otoscope and uses alligator forceps to extract the foxtail. Sedation may be necessary.


[1] Inside Of A Dog   Alexandra Horowitz

[2] The Dog’s Mind   Bruce Fogle 

[3] John Rogerson

[4] Conditioned Reflexes  I.P. Pavlov