How To Clean A Dog’s Ears


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Our pups’ ears are often left out of the grooming routine — let’s face it, they don’t like it and we don’t much either.

But when you know how to clean a dog’s ears properly, you’ll realize that it’s much easier than you thought it was.

cleaning dogs ears

Plus, it’s important.

Our canine companions have sensitive ears that are far more acute to sounds than we humans.  Hearing good is a big part of dog life, so while it’s important for humans to clear our ears regularly, it’s even more important for us to keep our pets in top shape.

It’s best to make a habit of cleaning your dog’s ears once a month or more often, depending on how active your dog is and therefore how dirty they can get.

However, while that seems simple, it can be daunting. There is always that risk of possibly hurting your dog or making it worse.

But never fear: our guide on cleaning dogs’ ears will guide you through…

Cleaning Dogs’ Ears: Why?

Dogs’ ears are dark and moist, which is the ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive. This can lead to ear infections.

If not treated properly, ear infections can grow into more painful problems and develop permanent damage such as hearing loss.

Dogs with floppy ears are more susceptible, thus they need more frequent ear cleaning.

You can perform at-home ear exams to identify signs of ear infection. Check the ear canal and the base of the ears. Signs may include inflammation of the ears, a foul odor, wax buildup, persistent scratching, off-color redness, or signs of pain if the site is touched.

If you determine that your dog has an ear infection, you should take them to a vet for advice and medication. Don’t try to treat an ear infection on your own. You risk causing permanent damage to your dog.

However, you can stop the problem before it begins. While cleaning their ears might seem like a tedious process for both you and your dog, it doesn’t have to be.

cleaning your dog's ears

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears


You will want to have ear cleaner fluid and a couple of cotton balls.

Ear cleaner works by loosening the wax in the ear canal and combining with it, so it is easier to remove.

When choosing an ear cleaner, know that there are different types of ear cleaners that are used for drying out excess moisture in the ear and types for breaking up wax. Ask your veterinarian if your dog has special needs, but usually a mild ear cleaner will do.

Avoid using homemade solutions made with vinegar, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, because they can dry out the ear canal and irritate the dog.

Cotton balls are what we will use to clean up the ear and the left-over cleansing product. If you have a small dog, cut the cotton ball in half so it is more workable.

Never use cotton swabs or Q-tips, because they could push the debris further into the ear or even puncture the eardrum, and the risk of that is much higher if your dog is squirming.

You can count on Fido not enjoying this process, so while it’s not painful for them, it’s best to avoid possible mishaps where possible.

dog ear cleaner


Once you have all the necessary equipment, you can start to clean your dog’s ears.

  1. Take your dog somewhere you don’t mind getting dirty, like the bathtub. Make sure they are sitting down and relaxed. Maybe play around a little bit before you get started to relax them.
  2. To start, gently raise their ear and hold it flat over their head to expose the ear canal.
  3. Take the ear cleaner and point it downwards into the ear canal. Pour enough in that it almost spills out. Don’t be afraid to use lots. Dogs have long ear canals, so it takes more to fill them.
  4. You should also follow the advice on the cleaner for more accurate measurements.
  5. To allow the ear cleaner to do the work, you might want to massage the base of the ear to help loosen up the debris. You may hear some mucky noises, which is okay. Your dog might also shake its head, which also helps the process.
  6. Repeat the process for the other side.
  7. Now take a clean cotton ball and wipe the opening of the ear canal of any visible wax or leftover cleaning solution. Repeat with a clean cotton ball until there is no more gunk. Take care not to leave any product inside.
  8. Repeat the process for the other side.
  9. You and your dog are finished. Remember to praise your dog when you are done, so they learn to see this routine as a good thing rather than an annoyance.

Don’t worry too much about leaving behind the ear cleaner fluid. It is harmless and will find its way out naturally. You may even find that your dog will grow to enjoy having their ears cleaned, because you are itching a spot they cannot reach.

Here’s a handy video about cleaning dogs’ ears that should help if you prefer more visual instructions:

Now that’s everything you need to know about how to clean your dog’s ears!

Any questions?

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