How to Clean Your Dog's Ears

A dog’s ears can come in all shapes and sizes. Some stand at attention, some may flop over and some hang down almost to the ground. The one thing they all have in common is they collect dirt and wax, just like human ears.

It’s easy to check to see if your dog’s ears need cleaning, just lift them up and take a look. You may see a dark waxy build-up or redness inside their ear. Or you may smell an odor emanating from them. You may also see your dog scratching at the ear or rubbing it along the ground. If you see any of those signs, it’s probably time for a good cleaning.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is much easier than clipping their toenails which we covered a few weeks ago. There are plenty of cleaning solutions available over-the-counter or from your veterinarian that are designed to help soften the ear wax, or you can use a home solution of equal parts vinegar and water.


Simple Tips for Cleaning

  • Start by giving your dog a nice massage and a gentle belly rub to relax them. Having a few treats handy to distract them is always a good idea. The only other equipment you need is some cotton swabs or cotton balls. Don’t use q-tips.
  • Hold your dog’s head and tilt them gently downward and to the side as you add a small amount of the solution (5-6 drops) into their ear. Massage the solution in at the bottom of your dog’s ear, working it in to help loosen and dislodge any dirt. You will hear it squish around in the ear canal – perfectly normal.
  • Your dog will probably want to shake their head – let them. This also helps disperse the solution and loosen up some of the dirt.
  • Take a cotton swab you’ve moistened with the cleaning solution and gently clean the inside of your dog’s ear. Begin with the flap which you can easily see and slowly work your way into their ear canal. Continue wiping, changing cotton swabs as needed until you capture all the dirt. You may need to add a little more solution but use it sparingly.
  • Be gentle as you wipe as the insides of their ears are sensitive. Be aware that dog’s ears are shaped differently than humans, so you can swab a little deeper into their ear canal than you would on yourself, just stop when you feel resistance.
  • If your dog’s ears are particularly dirty, you may need to perform this cleaning daily until the dirt and buildup is under control. Once cleared up, a weekly check and cleaning as needed is all that is required.
  • If your dog seems particularly uncomfortable or there is a great deal of discharge or odor coming from their ears, it’s probably worth a trip to the vet to check for any signs of infection. If so, it can usually be treated with a good thorough cleaning and some antibiotics.

No dog is immune to developing ear issues. Dogs with pointed ears or dogs with floppy ears are both susceptible to problems. In the first case, they are either open to the air and can get all sorts of things in there or in the second case, they are floppy, moist petri dishes, essentially breeding grounds for bacteria.

Poor ear care and ear infections can impact your dog’s overall health and certainly their hearing and behavior, so be sure to check them on a regular basis.



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