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Ear Cleaning for Your Dog

Dog Ear Cleaning Tips

Cleaning ears is an often forgotten task of home grooming for dogs, but regular maintenance of the ear canal is a crucial part of any dog's health. The good news is that cleaning your dog's ears doesn't need to be a difficult or time consuming task.

cleaning your dog's ears


Why Clean Your Dog's Ears?

A dog's ears produce oils and wax naturally to help lubricate the inside of the ear and trap foreign substances, like dust, so that nothing works it ways down to the vital ear drum. Over time, these oils can trap an abundant supply of dust and dirt that floats around in the air as well as particles of pollen, plants, hair, etc. The natural wax production also creates a waxy buildup that needs to be removed at regular intervals.

Ears are an important component of a dog's health. Parasites or repeated infections can cause hearing loss. The regular cleaning of ears can help prevent mite infestations, which can be common in dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, and bacterial or fungal infections.

Dog ear infections occur more commonly in down eared dogs such as Cocker Spaniels, dogs with allergies, or dogs that spend a lot of time playing and swimming in water. An ear infection left untreated will cause hearing loss, as will a long history of chronic ear infections.

How to Clean Your Dog's Ears?

No Q-tips or swabs should ever be put in your dog's ears. Only a veterinarian should ever use a swab, and even then they only do it in the case of infections. All fingers and wipes should stay out of the ear canal and only touch the areas we can see with the naked eye.

There are plenty of good commercial cleaners readily available. Try to stick with all natural ear cleaners and avoid those that use alcohol as a base. While alcohol does work to dry the ear out quickly, it will also burn if your dog has any irritation at all.

To effectively clean the ear, you will need your ear cleaner in a squirt bottle and either a paper towel or cotton balls or pads. Cotton pads designed to remove makeup work very effectively here.


The steps to cleaning your dog's ears:

  1. You may need two people at first. One to make sure the dog stays in one spot and the other to clean the ears.

  2. Hold the squirt bottle in one hand and hold the ear with the other. Gently squeeze a small squirt of solution in one ear.

  3. Quickly close the ear and massage the base for just a few seconds. You should hear a little bit of liquid squishing around as you massage.

  4. Release the ear and quickly jump back! Your dog is going to instantly want to shake his head. Let him shake for a minute or two. This flushes out the dirt and wax to a point where you can wipe it out.

  5. Take your paper towel or cotton ball/pad and again while holding one ear, use the pad to gently wipe out any wax, dirt, or moisture.

  6. Never, ever put your finger, the paper towel, or the cotton pad down inside the dog's ear. Only wipe the upper areas of the ear flap that you can see.

  7. Repeat process for the second ear.

Dog Ear Cleaning Information - Additional Notes

Some veterinarians recommend plucking extra hair from inside the dog's ear, particularly in down eared dogs, to help prevent infections. Most dogs with upright ears do not need this procedure. Only down eared dogs, dogs with chronic ear infections, or toy breeds with copious amounts of ear hair will require their ears to be plucked.

You can have your veterinarian perform this for you during routine visits. If you would like to do this at home, you will need tweezers. Simply pluck the hairs out that are inside your dog's ear, gently with just a few hairs at a time. This might be uncomfortable for your dog, so a second person on hand to provide treats to distract your dog might be advantageous. Never use scissors for this process as you might accidentally cut your dog's ear.

A dog's ears should be cleaned every 1-2 weeks as part of a regular maintenance grooming program. For those dogs outside or with downed ears, weekly cleanings would be best.

Always pay attention to excessive wax buildup, dark brown waxes, or unusual odors. Ear buildup can be caused by ear mites or more commonly ear infections, which also produce foul odors. If you spot any of these problems, you will need to call in your veterinarian to inspect your dog's ears.


washing dog ears


Some other pages you may be interested in:

Teach your dog some simple obedience training commands such as sit, stay, down and the recall.

Learn why clicker training is a brilliant way to shape the behavior of your puppy or older dog.

Comprehensive dog health care resources.


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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.