How to Clean a Dog's Ears

Medium
10 - 20 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

"Wait, you mean I have to clean my dog's ears?" 

Yes, not only is it necessary for you to clean your dog's ears, but is an important part of what should be your dog's routine grooming. While not all dog breeds need to have their ears cleaned constantly, some require cleaning more than others. Especially those breeds that are prone to ear infections. Bear in mind, your focus should be on the external ear canal. This is where the bulk of any earwax and debris is likely to build up, which in turn can lead to serious ear infections. 

Dog's Perspective

Even if your pup likes to have the inside and outside of his ears scratched and rubbed, there is a good chance he is not going to like it when you start trying to clean them out. As you are cleaning his ears, be on the lookout for foul odors, discharge, redness, excessive scratching, swelling, masses, or pain in the area. These are all possible indications of an ear infection that may require treatment by your pup's vet.

The Positive Experience Method

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Step
1
Set the stage
Unless you want to struggle with your pup during the ear cleaning process, which of course will only make the process take longer, approach this task in a calm and relaxed manner. The best way to do this is to create a positive experience-- consider having a bag of his favorite treats on hand that you can use to reward him when he cooperates.
Step
2
Grab the right tools
Just like your mom told you that you shouldn't use cotton swabs to clean your ears, you should never use them to clean your pup's ears. Instead, you can use gauze wrapped around a finger or cotton balls and, if necessary, a pair of hemostats to hold them. You will also need a good quality ear wash, preferably one from your vet. Be sure you choose one that doesn't contain steroids, antibiotics, alcohol, or any other type of toxic ingredients.
Step
3
In reach
Put your tools and your cleaning supplies within reach so that you don't have to get up in the middle of cleaning your pup's ears. This will inevitably lead to your dog wandering off, making the whole process take far longer than it should.
Step
4
Outer ears first
Soak a cotton ball in the cleaning solution and start by cleaning the outside of your dog's ears. Start at the very outside, cleaning the areas of his ear that you can easily see. Work your way slowly in until you begin to feel resistance. This includes the entire inside edge of his ear flaps too.
Step
5
Inner ears last
Once the outer parts of your pup's ears are clean, soak another cotton ball in the cleaning solution and clean the inner parts of his ears. Be very careful cleaning this area, as you can easily hurt your pup. You should be cleaning your pup's ears once a month.
Recommend grooming method?

The Spritz and Shake Method

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Step
1
Choose a place to work
Choose a place to clean your dog's ears where any splatter from him shaking his head won't cause a problem. You might use the tub, a shower stall, or outside.
Step
2
Inspection first
Start by taking a good look inside each of his ears for excessive dirt, debris, infection, and excessive amounts of hair. If the hair is too long, you can use your fingers, hemostat, or a pair of tweezers to remove it. If you are not sure how to do this, ask your vet as he can tell you how to do it without causing your pup pain.
Step
3
Open up and add oil
Open your pup's ear by holding the flap up if needed and pour a few drops of mineral oil on the inside of the ear flap, then pour a little more inside the ear canal.
Step
4
Massage time
Before your dog has a chance to shake his head, start massaging the base of his ear to help the mineral oil to begin breaking up any dirt in his ear. Do this for several seconds or longer depending on how dirty your pup's ears are.
Step
5
Shake it all out
Now release your dog's head and stand back. As he shakes his head, the oil will carry any dirt and debris out of his ear. Finish up with a slightly moist gauze wrapped around your finger and wipe out the ear canal and the rest of the inside of his ear. Repeat for the other side and do this once a month to keep his ears clean and healthy.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Remember your pup's ears are very sensitive, regular cleaning will help prevent infections.
  • Your dog does not want you to clean his ears, this is going to take time and patience.
  • Be sure you know what you are doing, it is very easy to cause serious pain and injury.
  • Be sure to make the whole experience fun for both of you and use lots of treats.
  • If there is any sign of infection, stop what you are doing and consult your vet.
  • You should be cleaning your pup's ears once a month to help avoid ear infections.

Conclusion

Cleaning your dog's ears should be a part of his monthly grooming. If you don't stay on top of this task, he could end up with serious damage or hearing loss. If you are not comfortable doing this, take your pup to see his vet and he should be able to teach you how to clean the ears without hurting your pup. Just take your time, pay attention to what you are doing, and, most of all, be gentle. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
Floppy
miniature poodle
4 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Floppy
miniature poodle
4 Years

My poodle has very thick hair inside his ears and he has a history of getting ear infections because of it. I have tried plucking the hairs with ear powder, but he hates it and sometimes would snap at me or bite me (he’s a rescue). I’ve also tried using a hemostat and it has the same effect. Sometimes he gets so sensitive he would be so on edge and be very afraid of me and avoiding me afterward. How can I make it as painless as possible? Is shaving the hair an option? I don’t want to stick any sharp tools like scissors in his ear for obvious reasons.

Paige Thompson
Dog Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hi Iana, I'm sorry to hear about your troubles with plucking Floppy's ear hair. Ear powder is the best way to get a grip on the hair and pluck it out as painlessly as possible. Unfortunately, shaving in the ear canal is not an option. What I would suggest is plucking very small amounts of hair at a time, a little every night. Try giving him treats if he is motivated by them. Once Floppy decides you're done, don't push it. You can try more the next day. If you are unable to get anything accomplished. Your groomer or vet should be able to preform this task for you for a fee. Best wishes, Paige

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