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How to Clean Dog Ears? Everything You Need to Know

Cleaning your dog’s ears is an essential part of their grooming needs. Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears avoids chronic ear infections. While some routine dog care, like nail trimming and teeth cleaning, might seem complicated for you to take up and is often left to professionals, cleaning your dog ears can be done at home itself. 

Before you begin, check with your vet to see how often you should clean your canine’s ears. Your dog’s age, breed, coat, and activity level can determine the frequency. Generally, veterinarians recommend cleaning dog ears at least once a month. You should clean your dog’s ears more frequently if he likes to swim. 

What Equipment is Required to Clean Dog Ears?

Before you begin to clean your dog’s ears, ensure you have the following things:

  • Damp cotton wool or cotton wool pads
Damp Cotton Wool
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  • Ear cleaner (must be dog-specific, never use products manufactured for human use).

  • Tweezers

  • A clean towel
  • A second pair of hands (if your dog is not used to having their ears handled).
  • Bunch of treats (during and after the ear cleaning)

Always remember not to use cotton buds to clean your canine’s ears, as these can be inserted too far into the ear canal and can potentially cause damage.

Step by Step Process for Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Here are some steps and tips for cleaning your dog’s ears.

Get your tools ready

If your dog doesn’t like being controlled or groomed, this could get messy. So, be prepared with the tools mentioned above. You may also need tweezers if your canine has thick hair inside the ear flap.

Start the process with grooming

A haircut is a must for dogs with very hairy ears before cleaning. First, remove matted hair and wash the hair around the ear canal and ear flap. You can pluck a few hairs at a time to provide more airflow if the ear canal is hairy.

Restrain your dog

Suppose your dog is small. In that case, put them on a table and wrap your arm around them. If you have a large breed, have your dog lie down and get on your knees, leaning over the dog to control them from trying to get up. You may need to use a gentle forearm near the jaw and grab the upper elbow of the bottom front leg of your dog to restrain effectively.

Apply ear cleaner solution

Fill up the inner ear with an ear cleaner solution using your dog’s ear flap as a funnel. Remember not to insert the tip of the bottle directly into the ear to avoid inconvenience to your dog. Instead, use enough ear cleaners so that the liquid starts flowing out.

Massage the ears

Hold the ear flap and gently massage the ear base for 20 to 30 seconds. By doing so, the ear cleaner breaks up wax and other types of debris present inside your dog’s ear. 

Wipe away debris

After you’ve massaged your dog’s ears, use damp cotton wool or cotton wool pads to remove any debris from the inside of the ear flap and the upper ear canal.

Let your dog shake

Your dog will want to shake their head during this process, and now’s the time to let them get rid of the leftover ear cleaner and any additional debris out of the inner canal. Next, grab the ear flap and clean it again using a ball of damp cotton wool or cotton wool pad. Never penetrate your dog’s ear farther than your finger can reach.

Reward your dog with a treat

After successfully cleaning one of your dog’s ears, reward him with a treat and repeat the same on the other side. Offer another treat when you’re finished to get him used to the process. 

Are Some Dog Breeds More Prone to Ear Infections?

All dogs are susceptible to ear infections. Still, dogs with allergies, weak immunity, or diabetes and dog breeds with long, floppy, hairy ears are more prone to ear infections. Some of the dog breeds that need special attention and double care are:

  • Basset Hound
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Miniature Poodle

Home Remedies to Clean Dog Ears 

It is always recommended to check your dog’s ears carefully before cleaning them. Have your vet check for an infection if you notice any redness, swelling, unusual heat, foul smell, or if your dog walks away from you when you touch his ear. Don’t put off getting medical treatment. Infections can lead to bleeding, small ulcers in the ear, and loss of hearing, so don’t take an ear infection lightly. Always be sure that the eardrum is intact when cleaning your dog’s ears. Your veterinarian will check your dog’s eardrums during a regular physical and advise you on how to clean your dog’s ears.

Image source: Cesar’s way

Vinegar, Alcohol and Boric Acid

Take a 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid and add 2 ounces of white vinegar to it. Add in a few drops of rubbing alcohol and povidone-iodine to the same. Shake to mix. You can omit povidone-iodine if you are concerned about staining or don’t like its smell. This preparation is good to use after swimming because of alcohol. Saturate a cotton ball, washcloth, or gauze with this preparation and wipe the inside of your dog’s ear. Wipe again with a clean, damp washcloth.

Vinegar And Water

Some pet owners and groomers swear by apple cider vinegar and water alone. However, some owners prefer to omit alcohol, fearing it to be harsh or drying their dogs’ ears. To make a vinegar and water solution, take 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar and mix with 2/3 cup of lukewarm water. Using a cotton ball or soft cloth, wipe the visible part of the inside of your dog’s ear with the solution.

Tea Tree Oil

Your furry friend may have an ear infection if some insects, water, or liquid has entered or they scratch their ears. They may shake their head and rub the inside of their ears to get some relief. Their ears may be smelly or have ear wax that is pink or dark brown. Several studies show the effectiveness of tea tree oil on ear problems. In addition, a meta-review in 2016 has shown some evidence on the efficacy of tea tree oil for various ear infections and aches in canines. 

Tip: Your homemade tea tree oil solution for ear problems requires one to two drops of TTO with two to four drops of warm olive oil. Before applying this solution, gently clean your dog’s ears with a cotton swab or ear wipe made for canines. After cleaning, drop one to two tiny drops of this solution on the base of your dog’s ear without pouring into the ear canals, as this can cause discomfort to your dog.

Waxy Buildup

Use a few drops of almond, olive, or mineral oil to loosen the wax if your dog’s ears are not too dirty and only seek to remove excess wax. Put a few drops on the visible part of the ear, give it some time to loosen the wax, and let your dog shake his head on its own to spread the oil. Then, clean the wax and oil with a soft, clean cloth or cotton balls.

How to Choose a Good Dog Ear Cleaner?

Ear cleaners are considered good if it is mildly astringent and quick to dry. And you can use natural oils for this purpose. For example, olive oil or even extra virgin coconut oil can help clean unclean dog ears. But first, slightly warm the oil by soaking the container in warm water for a few minutes. Doing so will make it more effective and comfortable for your dog. Also, note that olive oil isn’t very effective in treating ear mites.

You should never use water as an ear cleaner as it can stay in the ear, creating the perfect conditions for yeast to grow. 

Image source: Great Pet Care

Note: Do not use hydrogen peroxide to clean your dog’s ears. Though a commonly used household product, hydrogen peroxide irritates healthy skin cells. Ears contain sensitive tissue, and using hydrogen peroxide for a prolonged period, damages the ear itself. Stick to dog-safe products if you plan for home remedies or prefer vet-approved cleaners.

Pro tips

  • Check your dog’s ears carefully before cleansing them. 
  • Remember not to over-clean your dog’s ears. Adequately cleaning their ears also leads to infection and irritation. So firstly, be aware of how healthy, and clean their ears look- A dog’s ears are pink, odorless, not dirty or inflamed, and do not smell like yeast or stinks. 
  • Clean the dog’s ears only when you notice a change.
  • Suppose you notice any swelling, redness, unusual heat, foul smell, or your dog pulls away from you when you touch his ear. In that case, consult your vet and check for an infection. 
  • Consult the vet immediately and do not delay with medical treatment. Ear infections can lead to small ulcers in the ear, bleeding, and loss of hearing. 
  • While cleaning your dog’s ears, ensure his eardrum is unharmed. 
  • Your vet inspects your dog’s eardrums, and you can get suggestions from him on cleaning your dog’s ears.

How to Clean Dog Ears?  Videos

Cleaning A Dog’s Ears – Veterinary Training

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ear in 5 Simple Steps || Avoid ear infection in dogs ll

Final Thoughts

Examine your dog’s ears regularly to avoid infections. Excessive ear discharge or painful ears for your dog are not typical. If this is the case, consult a veterinarian to rule out any conditions, ear mites, or other problems that may require medication. Any dog breed can develop ear infection by parasites, yeast, bacteria, mites, ticks, fleas, or get a burr, grass, plant awns, or any other seed stuck in the ear canal. Dogs that swim often or have allergies have a higher risk of developing an ear infection. Regularly examining your dog’s ears prevents your furry friend from more severe problems.

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