How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

by Scritch

Just like the rest of their body, a dog’s ears need to be occasionally examined. Many pet parents can’t help but mindlessly pet their dog’s velvety soft ears. This is actually the first step in checking them, because if your dog’s ears are painful or sensitive, he may flinch or pull away. The next step is to check the inside of the ear for odor, dirt, and excess wax. Redness or sensitive ears may be a sign of infection, and ear infections are the third most common health condition in dogs, according to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. However, by regularly taking a peek inside your dog’s ears and cleaning them when necessary, you can help prevent painful and unpleasant ear problems. 

When you shouldn’t clean your dog’s ears

If you suspect an ear infection or another medical condition with your dog’s ears, it’s best to leave them alone and go to the vet for advice. Your vet may want to swab your dog’s ear for testing or take a closer look at the issue to help come up with a diagnosis. Cleaning the ear removes the “evidence” and could make it hard for your vet to figure out what’s really going on. 

Signs of an ear infection:

  • Odor
  • Discharge
  • Swelling, inflamed, or hot to the touch
  • Frequent head shaking or scratching at the ear
  • Sensitive or painful to the touch

In the case of an ear infection, your vet will offer treatment options. If none of these concerns are present and your dog simply has dirty ears, then you can proceed to cleaning them. 

How often should I clean my dog’s ears?

The frequency with which your dog needs an ear cleaning will depend on a number of factors, including his breed, activity level, whether or not he swims regularly, and the humidity where you live. Cleaning too frequently removes all the wax and a healthy amount is needed to protect and lubricate the inside of the ears. 

Only clean your dog’s ears when necessary. Ear cleaning will become part of your grooming regimen if your dog swims regularly, if you notice excess wax or dirt, or if his ears are a little smelly. Breeds with floppy ears tend to need cleaning more frequently. 

How to clean your dog’s ears

Ear cleaning supplies

  • Something to wipe with, such as cotton balls or gauze wrapped around your finger (Never use cotton swabs which can cause damage or push debris further into the ear canal)
  • Veterinarian formulated ear cleanse (Never use alcohol)
  • Optional for squirmy dogs: treats and another person to hold the dog

The cleaning procedure

  1. Wet your gauze or cotton ball.
  2. Starting away from the ear canal, wipe away excess dirt and wax on the inside of the ear flap.
  3. Get a fresh cotton ball wet with ear rinse and wipe the inside of the ear. Be gentle, only cleaning what you can reach and stop when you feel resistance.
  4. Following the directions on the bottle or your veterinarian’s advice, dribble several drops of cleanser into your dog’s ear canal.
  5. Hold the ear closed and gently massage the base of the ear to move the liquid around and release any gunk inside.
  6. Step back and allow your dog to shake his head, then wipe away any excess liquid that has come out of the ear canal.

If your dog’s ears continue to be smelly or show other signs of infection, it’s a good idea to take him to the vet. You can help prevent ear infections by drying the ears thoroughly after a swim or a bath. 

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