How to Clean Dog Ears

Ear cleaning is an aspect of dog grooming that shouldn't be neglected. If your dog regularly visits a professional groomer, it's likely that his ears are getting cleaned there, although it's a good idea to check with your groomer to verify. Without regular cleaning, wax and oils build up inside the ear, increasing risk of ear infection and hearing damage. With this in mind, it's a good idea for any pet owner to know how to clean dog ears.

What Supplies Can I Use to Clean My Dog's Ears?

Golden retriever at vets having his ears checkedProperly cleaning your pup's ears begins with gathering the right supplies. Here's what you need:

  • Ear cleanser: Look for a veterinarian-recommended commercial cleaning solution. Avoid cleansers that contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which can irritate your dog's sensitive ears, cautions The Spruce Pets. If you're not sure whether something is okay to use on your dog, simply ask your vet or dog groomer, "What can I clean my dog's ears with?"
  • Cotton balls or pads: Cotton swabs may also be used to clean the ridges of the outer ear, but should never be inserted in the ear canal. By doing so you could cause permanent hearing damage.
  • Tweezers: These are good to have on hand if your dog has a lot of hair in his ears.
  • A towel: This is recommended for containing potential messes, especially if your dog is prone to shaking his head when something gets in his ears.
  • Treats You'll want to reward your pup when it's all done.

How to Clean Dog Ears

Before you begin, take a moment to inspect your dog's ears. If they appear red or inflamed, they smell bad, or your dog shows signs that they itch, stop what you're doing and contact your vet. Your dog may have an infection or an infestation of ear mites, either of which will need to be treated. If your dog has a lot of hair, use tweezers to clear hair out of the ear canal. Once the ears are clear and everything appears normal, read the directions on the ear cleanser. You can also follow this step-by-step process to clean your pooch's ears:

  1. After getting your pup to sit, reward him with a treat and allow him to inspect the bottle of ear cleaner.
  2. If his ears aren't already erect, hold the ear flap upright and carefully fill the ear canal with cleaning solution.
  3. Keeping the ear flap out of the way, gently massage the base of the ear with your fingers for about twenty seconds.
  4. Release the ear and allow your dog to shake his head if he desires. Hold a towel over his head to prevent solution from flying everywhere.
  5. Use a cotton ball or a cotton pad wrapped around your index finger to gently wipe the visible part of your dog's ear canal and outer ear. Use a cotton swab only if necessary and only on the visible portion of your dog's ear.
  6. Reward your pup with another treat and then repeat these steps for the other ear.

Tips and Tricks to Make it Easier

While the steps involved in how to clean dog ears may be pretty straightforward, here are a few tips that will help it go easier for both you and your pooch.

Unless you want water everywhere, make sure your dog is in a confined area. Place your dog in a tub or bring him outside. Make sure you're wearing old clothing that won't get ruined if cleaning solution gets on it.

Additionally, don't skimp on the cleaning solution. There's a lot more to your dog's ear canal than what you can see. Filling the entire canal with solution will help ensure the entire ear gets cleaned. Any excess cleaner that doesn't get wiped out will be expelled by your dog shaking his head. If the ears still appear dirty when you're done, go ahead and repeat the process, and stop immediately if you notice redness or bleeding, or if your dog show signs of discomfort.

Some dogs, especially those with short ears and not a lot of hair, may only need to have their ears wiped out occasionally when they begin to look dirty. Dogs with floppy ears and those with a lot of hair around the ears should have a more thorough inspection and cleaning at least every other week.

Knowing how to clean dog ears is a fundamental part of grooming your pet. Making sure this is done on a regular basis will help protect his hearing and ensure that your pup's ears stay healthy throughout his life.

Again — if you need more advice and encouragement, please visit your vet. If you don't have a current, no problem, you can easily find one using our trusty find-a-vet tool.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.

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