Critter Culture
How to Clean Your Dog's Ears
DogsHealth

How to Clean Your Dog's Ears

Theo, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Sep 24, 2020

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Looking after your dog’s health should include the maintenance and care of your pup's ears. A build-up of wax and dirt in a dog's ears can lead to issues such as ear infections and yeast growth. Dogs with longer ears generally pose a higher risk of developing an ear infection, but it is also possible for dogs with shorter ears to develop ear infections from poor hygiene. 

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1

Assessing the hygiene of your dog's ears

Checking your dog's ear hygiene. ThamKC / Getty Images

Regularly check the hygeine of your dog's ears, but consult with your veterinarian to discuss exactly how often you should be cleaning them. Like human ears, a dog’s ear also contains important oils and secretions for the overall health of the ear, which is why it may not be a great idea to clean your dog’s ears every single day.

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Signs your dog's ears need to be cleaned

Signs that your dog may need a proper ear wash and dry. SStajic / Getty Images

There are certain signs to look out for to determine whether your dog's ears needs a good ear cleaning. Lift your dogs’ ear up to check for a foul odor, a build up of dirt, or any discharge being secreted from your dog’s ear. If you notice any of these signs on your dog’s ear, then it may be time for a good wash up.

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Checking for an infection

Infection in a dogs ear. dimarik / Getty Images

For most dogs, healthy ears will be pinkish in color and free of any odor, redness, and inflammation. A red, inflamed ear with an odor could indicate the presence of an ear infection. If your dog’s ear presents any of those signs, then you may want to consult with a veterinarian.

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The best cleaning solution for your pup's ears

Cleaning solution for your dog's ear. Capuski / Getty Images

To clean your dog's ears, use a cleansing solution recommended by a veterinarian or a grooming expert. Avoid products containing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as these products can be harmful to the sensitive skin on the inner canal of the ear. If your dog's ears show any signs of irritation such as inflammation or a rash, stop using the solution and contact your veterinarian for further advice.

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Avoid using cotton swabs

Using a cotton pad to clean out the ear. M_a_y_a / Getty Images

Using cotton balls or pads to clean the ear is much safer than using cotton swabs. Cotton swabs are great for cleaning around the edges of the outer ear, but it may cause damage to your dog’s hearing if you probe within the ear canal. Keep some tweezers in your kit as well to tweeze out any obstructive hairs which may be in your dog’s ear canal.

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Prevent a mess

Towel drying the area. Greg Bethmann / Getty Images

Have a towel handy to clean up any potential mess made during the cleaning process and to mop up any excess solution or water. It may also help to keep some treats close by so that you can reward your good boy (or girl) for being so obedient whilst you were cleaning their ears.

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The cleaning process

Plucking the hair away from your dogs ear canals. andriano_cz / Getty Images

Start off by inspecting your dog’s ears for an infection. If there is no sign of infection, then you can proceed to the cleaning process. Give your dog a treat as positive reinforcement while you clean their ears. If your dog has longer floppy ears, gently lift the flap of the ear. Check to see if there are any hairs causing an obstruction to the ear canal, if there are hairs present, tweeze these hairs out to clear out the pathway of the ear canal.

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Carefuly apply the solution

Applying the solution to your dogs ears. RobertoDavid / Getty Images

Gently apply the cleaning solution to your dogs’ ear, remembering not to touch your dogs’ ear with the tip of the bottle for hygiene purposes. Use a generous amount of the cleaning solution as the ear has more surface area than our eyes first see. Massage the base of your dog’s ear using your index and middle finger so that the fluid may easily travel all the way down into the ear canal. After massaging for about two minutes, release the ear and hold a towel around your dog’s head to prevent the cleaning solution from flying all over the place whilst your dog shakes his head.

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Wipe the excess fluid out

Wiping the excess fluid from your dogs ear. ThamKC / Getty Images

Wrap a clean piece of cotton wool or a cotton pad around your index finger, and gently dab any excess fluid around the ear. Only wipe around the visible part of the ear; do not use a cotton swab to wipe inside the ear canal. When you are finished with the process, give your dog a well-deserved treat. Repeat the same process with the other ear.

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Benefits of regular ear cleanings

A healthy dog is a happy dog. Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images

Giving your dog a regular ear check can aid in the early detection of infections, fleas, and other parasites latching onto your dog. Proper grooming will also help to improve and maintain your dog’s sense of hearing. If done with care and a gentle touch, the process can also be a great way to bond with your dog.

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