How to Bathe a Dog Without Getting Water in His Ears

Medium
20 - 40 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

Your Labrador, Max, who is normally an avid water dog and loves swimming at the lake, avoids you like the plague when he senses it's bath time. Why? Maybe he does not like getting water in his ears; it is easy when using a handheld shower or pouring water over your dog’s head to accidentally get water in his ear canal, and most dogs do not like the sensation. Who would?  But there is an even bigger problem than just not liking the feeling of water in his ears. If moisture and water remain in the ear after bath time it can change the pH balance in your dog’s ear and cause bacteria and yeast to multiply and result in a nasty ear infection. Ear infections are uncomfortable, unpleasant and can be difficult to get rid of.  Far better to avoid them in the first place, by not getting water in your dog’s ears during bath time.

Dog's Perspective

Ever had water sprayed in your ear?  Not nice!  Your dog won't like it either, it feels icky and if water remains in the ear he is apt to get a painful ear infection. However, he may not love the precautions you take to keep water out of his ear either. Be sure whatever method you use to protect your dog's ears you introduce it slowly to your dog, for short periods of time at first, before using them during bath time so there is not a struggle when you are in the slippery bathtub.

The Cotton in the Ears Method

Effective
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Shampoo
Towel
Step
1
Create a cotton ear plug
Before bathing, practice putting a small piece of cotton cloth or a large cotton ball into your dog's ears. Keep it in for a short period of time then take it out. Give your dog treats when you do this so he does not object, and develops a positive association. The cotton ear plug should be snug to prevent water getting in, but not packed in, which could damage delicate ear structures.
Step
2
Place plug in before bath
Get bath supplies ready and insert cotton balls or cloth into your dog's ears. You can put some coconut oil on the cotton to lubricate it for a snug fit, and coconut oil is antibacterial and anti-fungal.
Step
3
Direct water back
Bathe your dog carefully, direct water away from the ears and head. Hold your dog's head up so that water runs back from his neck not forward onto his head and into ear cavities.
Step
4
Use face cloth on head
Use a face cloth to gently clean your dog's head and face so water does not need to be directed over the head and ear area.
Step
5
Remove cotton
Towel dry and remember to remove cotton after the bath. Check the ear canal for any water that might have gotten into the ear and dab dry with a cotton ball or dry cloth.
Recommend grooming method?

The Protective Barrier Method

Effective
0 Votes
Shampoo
Towel
Step
1
Practice with barrier
Put an Elizabethan collar or protective cone on your dog prior to bath time. For a larger dog, you can also cut a hole in a shower cap to fit over your dogs face, with his nose and eyes exposed through the hole, and his ears covered by the cap. The elastic should be behind the ears. Get your dog used to wearing the protective cone or cap before bath time.
Step
2
Place barrier on for bath
Put the protective barrier on for your dog's bath. Have supplies ready so you do not have to reach for them and may inadvertently direct water at your dogs ears.
Step
3
Direct water
Get your dog wet, working from the neck backwards. Direct water backwards. Elevate your dog's nose so that any water that gets on his head runs backwards away from his ears.
Step
4
Use cloth for face
Wash the face and ear area with a damp face cloth so water doesn't run into the ears.
Step
5
Dry
Towel dry your dog after bathing, remove the cone or cap, check ears for water and dab dry with cotton cloth, gauze or cotton ball.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Get your dog used to ear protection before bath time as your dog can be distressed by cones, caps or cotton in the ears.
  • Do not insert anything far down into the ear canal where delicate ear structures could be damaged. Cotton should be in the entrance to the ear canals only.
  • Check ears for water after the bath, dry with a cloth and use witch hazel on a cotton ball, cloth or piece of gauze wrapped around your finger, or ear cleaning solutions with drying agents to wipe ears out. Remember not to insert your finger or cleaning materials into the back of the ear canal.
  • Watch your dog for signs of ear infection and address as soon as possible with appropriate medication.

Conclusion

Your dog is not going to like getting water in his ears during bath time, even if he is a water-loving dog. Dogs with floppy ears and certain breeds are especially predisposed to ear infections if moisture gets in the ears and you will want to avoid this to prevent bacterial or fungal infections, which can be painful and difficult to treat. Protecting ears with cotton inserted into the ear prior to bath time or a mechanical barrier over the ears, and directing water away from the head and ears will prevent excess water draining into the ear canals and creating an unpleasant sensation and possible health problems. Remember, your dog's ears contain fragile hearing structures; use caution when working around and in the ear canal, so as not to cause damage.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
zeus
American Staffordshire Terrier
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
zeus
American Staffordshire Terrier
4 Months

What is the spray called that you can put into the dogs ears before bathing them?

Paige Thompson
Paige Thompson
Dog Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hi Manda! Some groomers put a basic ear cleaner in a dogs ears prior to the bath and then clean the ears out after the bath is complete. This is because the ear cleaners have a drying agent in them to help prevent moisture from building up in the canal. Another simple option is to put cotton balls in Zeus' ears before the bath to keep water from dripping in. Don't put them in too far and dont forget to remove them after. Thanks for your question! Paige

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