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How to Effectively Clean Your Dog’s Ears

By Kristi Patrice Carter

One of the most important and, unfortunately, often the most overlooked aspects of your dog’s health and well-being are his sensitive ears. Simply inspecting and cleaning your dog’s ears on a regular basis can protect him or her from discomfort and a host of troublesome problems. Painful infections can even damage your best friend’s precious hearing.

What you’ll need

  • Cotton balls or gauze pads
  • Specially formulated ear wash for dogs
  • Paper towels
  • Lots of towels

What you should know

Your dog’s ear is in the shape of an L, making a 90-degree turn before reaching the sensitive eardrum. While the canine ear is protected considerably better than the human ear, it’s still imperative to be as gentle and as careful as possible when cleaning them.

Before beginning to clean your dog’s ears, a simple inspection should tell you if you should proceed or leave the task to the vet. If the ears appear extra dirty, a foul smelling odor is detected, or if Fido has been scratching and rubbing his head on the floor more than usual, he may have an infection or ear mites. If this is the case, a veterinarian will be able to swab the ear and determine the exact cause of the odor and debris. If there is an infection, he can explain how to proceed and how to best wash the ears to prevent further problems.

Step one

Before you start, make sure that you’ve got the table or the area all set up with your supplies and that you have washed your hands thoroughly. It’s a great idea to a have a friend nearby to distract the dog while you work. Begin by cleaning the outer area of the ear by using a cotton ball soaked in the ear wash solution. Then carefully clean the earflaps and around the bumpy area, which is the entrance to the ear canal. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can see it, clean it; if not, don’t. In other words, never stick anything down into the ear canal where you can’t see as this can permanently damage the eardrum.

A cotton swab may get lost inside the ear canal and possibly cause significant damage and pain, and may even push dirt down further into the canal. This is why it is commonly recommended to opt for using plain ear cleaning solution, which happens to be step two.

Step two

Carefully fill your dog’s ear with warm ear wash, one with low alcohol content will work best, and gently massage the outer portion of the ear for a few moments. Then allow him to shake his head a few times to clear out the excess solution in the canal and to clear out any excess dirt as well.

Step three

Dry your dog and reward him for being such a good boy during the process!

Helpful hints

  • For about an hour before the cleaning begins, put the bottle of cleaner in your pocket to get it to your body temperature. Your dog will be thankful to have the solution warmed first rather than have an icy cold liquid put into his ear.
  • Check your dog’s ears at least once a week when giving him love or when he’s in a calm state to catch anything going on before it can become a problem.
  • If you think your dog’s ears are unusually dirty, don’t hesitate to take her to a vet for a check-up. It’s much easier to treat infection in the early stages, not to mention avoiding pain for your pooch.
  • Dogs with floppy ears are far more likely to suffer from ear infections than their counterparts with pointy, upright ears. If your dog falls into the floppy category, act accordingly and keep a careful eye on the ear for any signs of infection.