How to clean dogs ears?

by Ann

The fondness of pets comes with a great deal of responsibility regarding their well-being and grooming. Speaking of pets, dogs are unarguably one of the most kept animals or pets at home. While it provides immense pleasure to watch your dog play around your house, seeing them in pain or restlessness brings even more discomfort. Most dogs are prone to infections depending upon their breed, the shape of the ear, absence or presence of hair in the ear canal, dry or wet environment, medical conditions, allergic reactions, or the surroundings, which contain numerous other disease-causing factors. Dogs must be kept in dry places to avoid bacterial or yeast infections. A warm or moist environment gives enough room for bacteria to grow, reproduce and cause infections. A healthy dog can be groomed at home with readily available supplies. Some breeds of dogs need frequent ear cleaning to be less susceptible to infections. A dog owner must differentiate between healthy and unhealthy ears, which is essential to decide if a dog needs a medical checkup timely. A cleaning session at home is enough if a dog is healthy and not suffering from any infection, which requires immediate attention or a veterinarian.

Assessment of a dog’s ears

  • To assess a dog’s ear, its anatomy must be well understood. Dogs’ ears are pretty much like cats,(Check out our Guide for all Cat Lovers)  and consist of 3 parts; the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear. It should be kept in mind that only the OUTER part of the ear needs cleaning.
  • A dog’s ears must be assessed regularly to watch out for any unusual appearance or behavior.
  • While rubbing your dog’s ear, notice your dog’s reaction. If he enjoys having his ears rubbed, he probably has healthy ears. It would help if you did not ignore any signs of resistance or discomfort because they can hint at physical illness.
  • If your dog is pushing you away, shaking his head more than usual, or rubbing his head/ears against the walls, look out for other symptoms and then take him to the veterinarian for a proper checkup.
  • SNIFF. Yes, you read it right. Sniffing your dog’s ears regularly will let you know how they usually smell, and you’ll be able to differentiate it from unhealthy ears, which are prone to produce a stinky or yeasty smell depending upon the infection.
  • Look into the ears every now and then carefully for any inflammation, redness, tenderness, or allergic reactions. If you spot any unusual change, there’s a high probability of ear infection, which is common in dogs. Your dog will need more than just cleaning in that case.
  • A normal amount of wax is found in-ears to filter the airflow. If you notice a change in the color or amount of wax, don’t ignore it. An excessive amount of wax means there’s a build-up that causes blockage of air or infection. It needs further careful inspection and removal by the veterinarian. If the color of the wax is brown, it’s considered normal. However, dirty gray change in color is not healthy and should be dealt with professionally.
  • After a thorough assessment of the dog’s ears, you’ll know whether they need simple at-home cleaning or medical treatment by a veterinarian.

How to confirm if a dog’s ears need to be cleaned?

As a dog owner, you must be familiarized with your dog’s healthy ears. Healthy ears look pink, odorless, and not inflamed or tender. A dog with healthy ears will let you rub his ears and be able to enjoy it. If you notice changes in his behavior and some apparent symptoms in his ears like redness or tenderness, he’s most probably suffering from an infection. Unhealthy ears will necessarily need cleaning alongside medical treatment under the supervision of a veterinarian who will apply drops to relieve the inflammation or give ointment in addition to antibacterial or antifungal medicine depending upon the kind of infection after a complete examination of the dog’s ears. Conditions, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can get worse and give rise to more medical issues. Before initiating the grooming process at home, you must rule out all sorts of uncommon and unusual conditions to keep your dog healthy and safe. However, there are products available at Canadavet that do not require a prescription and therefore no need to visit vets for routine purchase of flea, tick, and heartworm control. You may check premium pet medications for less price here.

 How often you should clean your dog’s ears?

  •  Not all dogs require frequent ear cleaning. If you do it against their physical requirement of cleaning, it can cause infections.
  • Cleaning more frequently than required will disrupt their self-cleaning abilities.
  • Regular assessment of the dog’s ears will help you determine how often you need to clean a dog’s ears.
  • Watch out for debris and wax accumulation. It will help you figure out your dog’s cleaning requirements.

What do you need to clean a dog’s ears?

Supplies required to clean a dog’s ears are not a lot, and they’re readily available in a regular household.

  • A cotton ball or gauze to wipe off any material.
  • A towel
  • The most crucial thing; an ear cleaner. Many ear cleaners are available in the market, which performs different functions ranging from antibacterial or antifungal actions to break down wax or debris. Go for a cleaner that is approved by the veterinarian only such as EPI OTIC or OTOMAX. A substandard or unsuitable ear cleaner can cause problems or infections. Check out Some great solutions here for Dogs Ear Health.

 How to clean a dog’s ears with Hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is NOT recommended for cleaning a dog’s ears. The ear is a sensitive part of the body that is susceptible to inflammation and infections upon using unsafe substances.

These products are prohibited in cleaning a dog’s ears because these can irritate otherwise healthy ears. However, you may use a veterinarian-approved solution only to avoid any damage to the ears.

What not to use to clean a dog’s ears?

-Q-tips shouldn’t be used while cleaning a dog’s ears because they can cause perforation of the eardrum or push the debris deep into the ears, which can aggravate the pre-existing problems or cause any disruption in the average conductivity of the ear.



-Witch hazel

The use of these kinds of products is a bad idea. It can kill the microbial agent causing the infection, but it will destroy normal and healthy cells. Hence, its use is not recommended.

How to clean a dog’s ears step by step?
    1. Make sure you have all the required supplies for cleaning, i.e., cotton ball, towel, and a solution prescribed by the veterinarian. Most veterinarians recommend Dog Ear Cleaner – for Routine Cleaning & Swimmer’s Ear. 
    2. Choose the area for cleaning a dog’s ears that is easy to clean afterward, like a bathroom or any outdoor place, as the entire cleaning process can get messier than you expect.
    3. Calm your dog by patting him or rubbing his ears. A calm and relaxed dog will make the cleaning process more accessible and more comfortable for both. You can exercise your dog before initiating it to make him more cooperative. Bring treats to favor your situation.
    4. Move your dog’s head a little downwards; hold the ear flap with one hand and solution in the other hand.
    5. Squeeze the solution in the ear gently and make sure it doesn’t go deeper than the first knuckle; otherwise, it will cause ear problems.
    6. Massage the ear gently with fingers for 30 seconds after pouring the ear cleaner for the solution to distribute.
    7. Be careful about the tip of the cleaner. It shouldn’t touch the dog’s ear because it can introduce or transmit bacteria which can cause infection in healthy ears.
    8. You will probably hear a squishing sound as the solution breaks debris in the ear canal.
    9. Let your dog shake his head. It’s normal. It’ll distribute the solution and get rid of the extra solution. You can use a towel to clean the face. Once he’s done shaking his head, use cotton to remove the debris from the ear canal.
    10. Dry the ear and clean the other ear. Spoil your dog with a reward and a treat.

    If you notice that your dog isn’t enjoying the cleaning process or resisting in any way, don’t force it and watch out for any apparent symptoms of tenderness or inflammation. Take him to the veterinarian as soon as you realize he’s in any pain or discomfort.

  1. Don’t let the tip of the ear cleaner touch the ear as it can introduce microbial infection.
  2. Don’t use Q tips as it can cause the debris to be pushed further deep in the ear canal
  3. If the dog shows any symptoms of infections, stop the cleaning process and start medical treatment.
  • Different breeds of dogs have different requirements, and they should be met accordingly.
  • Some dogs require frequent cleaning of ears. If they have healthy ears, an at-home grooming session will be enough to keep the ears clean.
  • Any kind of inflammation, tenderness, redness, pain, allergic reaction or wax build-up calls for a veterinarian’s appointment. The vet will give him a sedative or anesthetic agent to clean the ears in the clinic before starting medical treatment according to the signs and symptoms of infection.
  • You need a cotton gauze, towel, and a solution approved by a veterinarian for cleaning a dog’s ear at home. Squeeze the solution in the ear after calming the dog, massage the ear for a while and remove the debris with cotton.
  • Take all the necessary precautions to avoid unnecessary outcomes and problems.

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