How to Clean a Dog’s Ears: A Complete guide

Dogs with drop ears like a Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound or Labrador Retriever are prone to drop infections. This is because floppy ears restrict the air flow, hence debris and moisture are seen to get trapped more easily inside the ear canal, where it tends to fester and bloom into a bacterial or yeast infection. The breeds like Poodles and Bichons Frises have hair growth inside the ear canal, this is further seen to limit the airflow and lead to ear infections. Other causes of ear infections include pesky parasites that dwell inside the ears called ‘mites’ and allergies.

The following are the important pointers one need to know about the four-legged creature’s ears:

  • The dog’s ears are very sensitive; hence they need to be regularly maintained to prevent infections.
  • Most of the dogs do not like to clean their ears, so it is always a tedious task to clean them.
  • The ears need to be cleaned in the right way or it can cause serious damage.

This article enlightens about the right ear cleaning procedure that all pet parents can follow at home.

How often should one clean their dog’s ears?

If one’s dog is prone to ear infections, then cleaning the ears regularly might reduce its occurrence frequency. The ear cleaning frequency depends on one’s dog. Refrain from cleaning them often so often that the dog’s ears are irritated. A veterinarian will guide as to how frequently one needs to clean their canine’s ears. Some dogs need a monthly once ear clean. Other dogs need to get clean the ears cleaned every biweekly or even weekly.

During an ear infection, the vet might instruct one to clean the ears daily or every other day during the treatment period. As a medicating an unclean ear only enhances the infection as the muck and the wax present in the ear doesn’t allow the medication to get through to the skin inside the ear.

Experts recommend cleaning the dog’s ear when it looks or smells dirty. A dog’s ears should never smell bad as a foul odor or yeasty smell like bread dough indicates an infection is brewing and the dog should see the vet as soon as possible.

What are the signs of an ear infection in dog’s?

Signs of an ear infection include red, inflamed ears; head shaking or scratching at the ears; and ear discharge.  Ear infections in dogs can be extremely painful, so one should not delay in seeking medical help if one suspects a problem. If the dog yelps or cries when his or her ears are touched, then one needs to get to the vet as soon as possible.

Where can one get the dog’s ears cleaned?

The dog’s ear can be cleaned at home or the help of a vet or groomer can also be sought. This will get expensive if the dog requires frequent ear cleanings.

Cleaning the dog’s ears at home is easier if the right supplies and techniques are followed. One could also seek the vet, or a veterinary technician help to know the exact ear cleaning procedure if they are comfortable performing it at the comfort of the home.

How to clean the canine’s ears?

The following section enlightens the right procedure to clean the ears of a canine at home.

Materials required:

  • Cotton balls or gauze paper
  • Vet approved ear cleaner


  • Squeeze some ear cleaner into the dog’s ear and let it drop down into its ear canal.
  • Gently massage the base of the ear. This will enhance the spreading of the cleaner and will also help it break down wax and debris.
  • Allow the dog to shake its head (one can lightly drape its head with a towel to keep the gunk from flying all over).
  • Gently wipe the outer ear flap and inner ear with a cotton ball or gauze square.
  • Wipe as far down as one can, using the cotton ball or gauze paper with wrapped around the finger.

Note: Clean the inside part stopping when you feel resistance, as going deep can cause damages to the organ.

  • Keep wiping until the cotton balls come back clean.

Note: Pet ear cleaners contain drying agents, so any small amount of cleaner left inside the ear tends to dry on its own.

  • If the dog has an ear infection and needs medication, apply it after the ears are clean and wiped out.

Dos and Don’ts

Refrain from using cotton swabs

The cotton swabs are a natural choice for cleaning human ears, but one should not use them on animals. These are not only less efficient but can also be dangerous.

When the fido is startled and jerks his head while cleaning his ears, there are all chances of the cotton swab getting jammed into its ear canal, causing all sorts of pain and distress.

Hence experts recommend using cotton balls instead as they are much softer and are have minimal chances of getting stuck in the canine’s aural orifices.

Ear rinse or cleaner selection

Zero on an ear cleanser that is not only safe for the dog but is also free of antibiotics, steroids, alcohol or toxic materials of any kind.

Make the ear cleaning process a positive experience for the pooch

Associate the ear cleansing process with treats for co-operating so that the pooch will not only enjoy the procedure but will also look forward to it.

Place all the cleaning tools to the reach

It’s always a great idea to place the cleaning tool at hands reach. This will avoid the hassle of making the dog sit back to his position.

Final thoughts

Dogs’ ears are the most sensitive part of their bodies. Unattended ear infections can lead to serious problems and possible hearing loss. Hence looks for the signs above and get the ears cleaned for a better overall health of the pooch.



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Yeshwanthi Kamalraj
Yeshwanthi Kamalraj is a freelance copy editor, Pet sitter, and content writer who mainly focuses on scientific journals and health-related web pages. Before becoming a freelance content writer Yeshwanthi worked for Cenveo publishers as document analyst for various science journals published by Taylor and Francis Journals and later continued as a freelance copyeditor for the same publishers. Post marriage in 2009 Yeshwanthi developed a keen interest in pets after her husband and she brought a labrador puppy home. This interest helped her to explore a new niche of the pet sitting world whose journey is still on. Yeshwanthi is a dog lover who in her freetime enjoys listening to music, cooking, and meeting new people.


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