How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears


Ear cleaning is an important and necessary part of your dog’s grooming regimen. The shape and curvature of a dog’s ears provides the ideal environment for bacteria, parasites, and yeast to thrive.  As such, routine ear cleaning is the best way to ensure the health of your pet’s ears. How often depends on the amount of ear wax produced, and your dog’s breed, activities, and ear shape (short vs. long).  The best practice is to inspect your dog’s ears before bathing him or her. If there is wax buildup, you will need to clean the ears. However, if you suspect your pet already has an ear infection, contact your vet immediately. Do not apply an ear cleaning solution as this may worsen the condition. Symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Foul odor
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Brown ear wax
  • Ear discharge
  • Frequent head shaking
  • Pawing at the ears

Getting Started                      

Here is what you will need:

  • Ear cleaning solution — when choosing an ear cleanser, look for mild high-quality ear cleaning solution that is made specifically for pets. Avoid cleansers with drying agents such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as these can cause irritation. If you prefer a natural solution, you can make a homemade cleanser by mixing one part table vinegar to two parts water.
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Doggie treats

The best place to clean your dog’s ears is outside or in the bathtub right before you a bath. Most dogs will resist having their ears cleaned. However, with a little sweet talk and a bag of treats you can make the experience less stressful for both you and your pet.

Proper Cleaning Method

Outer Ear

Begin by moistening a cotton ball or cotton pad with your choice of ear cleanser. It’s best to start from the outside and work your way in. First, hold the outer lap up and gently wipe the part of the ear you can easily see (called the pinna). Take care to remove as much wax and debris from the outer ear as you can without hurting your pet. Be gentle and avoid using Q-tips.

Inner Ear

When the outer flap looks clean, drop a few drops of cleanser in the inner canal. Over-saturating the inner canal can lead to ear infections so do not use more than a few drops in each ear. When you drop liquid in a dog’s ear his instinct will be to shake his head. Before he can do so, gently massage the base of his ears for a few seconds. Next, let your dog shake the excess solution from his ears. The massaging and shaking will loosen the wax and debris causing it to move up to the outer flap where you can easily wipe it away with a cotton ball. Again, take care to wipe away as much buildup and excess solution as you can without hurting your pet. If the ear still seems dirty, you may need to repeat the process. Then, move on to the other ear and follow the same steps.


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