Written by Ella White
You’ve probably noticed how excited your dog gets about ear rubs. Their eyes roll back and they lean into the massage, but to a human hand that ear just feels like all fur and cartilage so you might have wondered: do dogs have feeling in their ears? The short answer is yes, but not for the reasons you might have thought.
Here we will explore what dogs do with their ears beyond just hearing, and why those ear rubs feel so woofing good.
A network of nerve branches inside your dog’s ears send endorphins throughout their body. This function is used for many things, but one of the side effects that makes ear rubs so enticing is it releases an overwhelming feeling of relaxation.
These nerves extend throughout your dog’s body and into their organs, sending impulses through the body. If you’ve ever done doggy acupuncture you might have noticed they place needles in the dog’s ears, and this is why.
The endorphins released through an ear rub are comparable to those a human might experience after exercise. They’re pain-killing and help us to feel good and mellow. But that doesn’t mean they want an ear rub all the time.
Studies have shown that dogs can be quite picky about who they share the pleasure of an ear rub with. Dogs associate the height of their head and having their head touched with dominance, so not all dogs will enjoy a stranger reaching out to touch their ears. So you might find your dog only allows you, their owner, the privilege of giving them a good ear rub.
Ear infections are the most common reason for dogs visiting the vet, so it’s important to keep them clean. Dogs’ ear canals are bendy and have a sharp curve, so infection can occur easily. If you notice your dog is in pain when you touch their ear, they might need to see the vet. Dogs who have recently had their ears clipped might also be extra sensitive to touch.
There’s nothing like a good massage. So if you want to perfect the art of ear rubs for your dog’s relaxation, start at the base and work outwards. Gently massage the inner ear folds and squeeze in a circular motion. And remember all dogs are different, so pay attention to what’s working for your pet and try new patterns to work out what they like best.
Remember, not all dogs will yelp if they’re in pain or discomfort, some will lick their lips so it’s important you know your dog well enough to understand their body language.
Who knew there was so much to know about ears? These unassuming features are actually one of the most complex – and interesting – parts of your dog’s body. So here are some fun facts about your dog’s ears that you might not have known.
So now you know that your dog has such sensitive feeling in their ears, you can make their lives even happier with plentiful ear rubs.