Keeping Your Dog’s Ears Clean

Dog’s ears are extremely prone to having dirt, debris, germs, and infections. The more you clean your dog’s ears, the less likely they’ll be to have infections and other issues.

Cleaning Dog's Ears

Instead of going to a vet or groomer to get your dog’s ears cleaned, I think you’ll find it’s not too hard to do it yourself. Cleaning a dog’s ears at home is fairly simple as long as the ears are not infected or damaged. It requires very few tools, and it can be a bonding experience for you and your dog.

First, you need to know how to tell if your dog’s ears need cleaning or not. Then, you need to know how to clean them.

Do They Need To Be Cleaned?

There are a few ways you can tell if your dog’s ears are dirty. The first way might sound strange, but it’s by smell. If your dog’s ears are healthy, they will have no odor at all. However, if they’re dirty, you’ll notice they smell off.

Another way you can tell is by color. If the dog’s ears are their normal color, usually the color of their skin, then they’re probably fine. But if you see that they’re red, or see actual spots of dirt, that means they’re ready to be cleaned.

If all you see is dirt or normal earwax you can begin cleaning your dog’s ears.

When Not To Clean Them

Look for any drainage of fluid from the ear (clear or gray/brown), thick waxy material, or any scratches, scabs or wounds. If you see any of these signs DO NOT clean the ear and contact your dog’s veterinarian for advice.

You won’t be able to see deep into the ear canal, as at the base of the ear, where it meets the head, it takes a sharp turn. Therefore, it is not advised to do a deep cleaning into the ears without instructions from your veterinarian. NEVER use a Q tip in the canal itself as you can compact material into this sharp turn or even rupture the eardrum.

Tools to Use

When cleaning your dog’s ears, there are a few products that should never be used. For example, you should never use alcohol to try and disinfect their ears, because that may dry out their ears.

As mentioned, you should also never use Q-tips or similar cotton tipped sticks, because that will only push dirt and debris farther down into the ear.

Checking a dog's ears

All you really need is some cotton balls and ear cleaning solution.

How To Clean the Ears

First, you want to dip your cotton ball into a cleaning solution made specifically for cleaning dogs’ ears. There are many good cleaning solutions on the market. Ask your vet or local pet store for recommendations.

Next, squeeze out the excess so the cotton is wet but not dripping. Gently swab the inside of your dog’s ear flap. Remove all the dirt and debris you can see.

If your dog has very dirty ears, the process may take quite a few cotton balls. As long as you’re gentle and stay towards the front of the hearing canal, your dog should tolerate this procedure very well.

Make sure to gently clean out the crevices as dirt and wax can build up in these areas. Clean both ears.

Irrigating the Ear Canal

Irrigate your dog’s ears fully only if it’s recommended to do so by a veterinarian. If your veterinarian advises, usually because the ears are packed full of dirt and wax, you can use the ear cleaner to irrigate (or drench the ears). This should remove much of the sticky thick material from the ear canal.

Start by positioning the tip of the ear cleaner bottle right at the opening to the ear canal inside the ear flap. Squeeze the bottle to drench the ear canal with fluid. Gently rub the base of the ear (thumb on one side, fingers on others) and massage the ear (very gently!) in this manner for 60 seconds.

Use gauze or cotton to clean out the gunk that comes out of the ear. Most likely you will use a lot if the ears are full of debris.

Take Cover

When you have finished, your dog may want to shake his head to shake the solution out. After your dog has shaken out any excess liquid, give the ears another wipe with gauze or cotton balls. This will remove any material brought out from the ear canal during the head shaking.


Ears of a Beagle Pup

If you have a puppy, they will be hesitant to let you clean their ears. Coax them into letting you clean them by giving them treats while touching around their ears.

They will eventually be comfortable with you touching their ears and allow you to clean them. You should give your puppy a treat once you’re done, so they’ll be excited to have their ears cleaned again next time.

Continue treating them as normal when they’re more grown up, but be gentler with them as they grow older, and treat them more often.

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    • Kathy jo
    • September 27, 2018

    Need help on teaching husband on how to bathe our jack Russel/terrier… He is rough with her and it bothers me on how he’s holding her and transferring the water from the faucet to her… Hrs very clumsy w/her thx…

      • LoveMyDogBlog
      • October 1, 2018

      Hi Kathy Jo. We have a post on bathing your dog – – but I’m not sure it will help your husband to be more gentle! Maybe if he reads the part about soaping up the water or the dog’s back…or maybe you could take over the dog-washing duties? Good luck!

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