Basics of Ears and Teeth with Dr. Llera

This is part 1 of 2 of a reader requested post as part of my collaboration with Dr. Ryan Llera

Dr. Llera can be found on Twitter and Facebook, he is very approachable, and is always looking for suggestions from pet parents as to what topics they would like to see discussed.

Part 1

The Basics of Ears and Teeth


Dr. R. Llera

When it comes to taking good care of your pet, several things that YOU can do at home can go a long way towards keeping your cat or dog in good health. Doing some of these simple things can also help cut down on veterinary visits which will keep your pet’s stress levels lower (unless they love visiting the clinic – we have awesome treats!) and your wallet happier. Regardless, even good at home care does not eliminate the need for an annual visit to your family veterinarian.

pseudomonas ear

An ear infected with Psuedomonas

 The ears are one of the best parts of a dog or cat

Ears can be pointed or floppy but always soft and your pet will most likely enjoy a good scratch or rub behind them. But what about the inside? Most pets will not need their ears cleaned, especially cats if they are kept indoors. My cat is 13 years old and I’ve never had to clean her ears but outdoor cats are more prone to catching ear mites. Pointy ears dogs are less likely to need cleanings than dogs with pendulous ears (labs, hounds, etc.).

Typically for cleaning ears, I only recommend doing it for dogs who go swimming, pets who have had previous or chronic ear problems, or for current treatment of a ear condition. Usually 1-2 times a month is sufficient unless they have a current problem.

Mineral oil, vinegar and water = BAD!

It is best to use a labeled ear cleaner that also acts as a drying agent because no matter how thorough the cleaning is, not all of it will get out so the drying aspect helps evaporate moisture.


The ear canals have a vertical & horizontal section. Pour the cleaner in (warning: they may shake it all over you!), massage the ear at the base, then wipe out the gunk with cotton balls, gauze, tissue, etc. just don’t use Q-tips and you won’t have to worry about hurting them.

Got teeth?

dirty teeth

Something I like to know of all my patients as the teeth are more important than many people realize. Healthy teeth are great, but unhealthy teeth can make pets not want to eat, can make them irritable, or infections from the mouth can spread to other organs in the body. We want your pets to keep their teeth, honestly we do…removing them is not enjoyable and at least they don’t have to hear the dentist drill. Aside from that, dental procedures can be costly if postponed repeatedly.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help it just takes some commitment.

  • It’s best to start brushing when they are young to get them used to it.
  • Using a child’s toothbrush is best and you do have to use a pet enzymatic toothpaste (Colgate, Crest, Aquafresh, etc. can all damage their teeth).
  • It’s best to do it daily but let’s be real; life gets in the way between work, kids, relaxing time, etc. Set a realistic goal and aim for 3-4 times a week.
  • Another option is using a veterinary recommended dental diet. This kind of food has a larger kibble size and does not break as easily so it provides more mechanical scrubbing action on the teeth, much like brushing. This won’t eliminate all the tartar but it certainly will slow down how fast dental disease can progress.

clean teeth

Hopefully this has been helpful to do some simple things to avoid bigger problems with your pets. Your veterinary clinic can help you with a demonstration of these things – all you have to do is ask! But if your pets won’t cooperate, we’ll always be there to help!

Be sure to stay tuned for Part 2:

Noses, Eyes, and Nails!

Please feel free to leave a comment if there’s anything else you are looking to find out more about!

Author: Kelly Harding

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