How to Clean a Dog's Floppy Ears

Hard
5 - 10 Minutes
3 Week

Introduction

Benji the Beagle has a problem. Well, two problems actually. His big floppy ears trap moisture, because of reduced air flow to his ear canals. This results in warm, moist conditions that yeast organisms thrive in, and Benji frequently has ear infections. Benji's owners would like to reduce the frequent uncomfortable, smelly and, let's face it, yucky ear infections by cleaning his ears more often to prevent yeast building up and causing problems for their dog.  


Floppy dog ears can be challenging to keep clean, as their structure acts to trap, wax, debris, hair, and moisture, a perfect storm for otitis externa,  the dreaded ear infection. If your dog has floppy ears, regular cleaning can help prevent a buildup of materials that contribute to infections, and if an infection does develop, you will need to clean your dog's ears to get rid of microorganisms causing inflammation and discomfort as soon, and as thoroughly, as possible before infections cause permanent damage to ear structures.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog has floppy ears they can become easily irritated from trapped moisture and debris.  If an infection has set in, your dog’s floppy ears will be inflamed and sore. This makes cleaning your dog's ears rather unpleasant for your canine companion. He may be resistant to having you tamper with his ears, especially if he has had frequent, painful infections previously and has developed a negative association with having his ears handled. You will want to be gentle and firm and try to avoid causing more discomfort to your dog's ears in order to gain his cooperation.

The Regular Cleaning Method

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Hemostat
Towel
Step
1
Prepare for mess
Put your floppy eared dog in the bathtub or outside, so when he shakes he will not spread ear cleaning solution and yucky ear debris all over your home. You may also want to wear old clothes or protective clothing. Have a towel handy to hold in front of your dog’s head when he starts to shake.
Step
2
Remove excess hair
Pull your dog's floppy ears up and away to access the ear canal. Pluck excess ear hair from around the entrance to the ear canal or trim with scissors held parallel to your dog’s skin. You can use an ear powder when plucking for a better grip. Take small amounts of hair at a time in hemostats or tweezers when plucking so as not to hurt your dog.
Step
3
Instill ear cleaner
Gently squirt ear cleaner, available at a pet supply store or from your veterinarian, on the inside flap of your dog's ear and at the entrance to the ear canal.
Step
4
Distribute ear cleaner
Fold the ears back over and gently massage the ear flaps and ear canal entrance. You will hear a smacking and squishing sound as ear cleaner is distributed in the ear canal. Stop massaging and hold a towel to protect your clothes. Allow your dog to shake out the ear cleaning solution.
Step
5
Clean out debris
Use a cotton ball or a piece of gauze on your finger to wipe out the underside of your dog's ear flap and the entrance to the ear canal. Do not force your finger down into the ear canal. Only insert your finger as far as it will comfortably go. Dispose of soiled cotton or gauze. Fasten your dog's ear flaps on top of your dogs head with a hair tie to allow them to dry Do not tie too tight and cut off circulation.
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The Homemade Solutions Method

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Towel
Step
1
Obtain applicator
Use a bottle with a nozzle like the kind used for hair dye, or use a syringe (minus the needle) to instill homemade ear cleaner.
Step
2
Make vinegar solution
Make an ear cleaning solution with ⅓ cup of apple cider vinegar and ⅔ cup water. This solution can be stored for future use if not all used at one cleaning.
Step
3
Distribute solution
Squirt vinegar mixture into the entrance to the ear canal or apply with a saturated cotton ball or piece of gauze. Massage into ears and then allow your dog to shake.
Step
4
Wipe out debris
Wipe out your dog's ears with cotton balls or gauze. This is especially important after your dog has been swimming. Wipe the underside of ears and ear canal with a damp cloth.
Step
5
Use oil
To remove stubborn wax, instill a few drops of almond or olive oil into your dog's ear canal, wait a few minutes, then allow your dog to shake his head. Wipe out the oil and loosened wax with a clean piece of gauze on your finger or a cotton ball.
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Caution & Considerations


  • Do not point sharp instruments like scissors at your dog's ears when removing hair.
  • Do not point applicators down into ear canal in case your dog moves and the applicator tip damages ear structures.  Hold applicators at an angle to the entrance of the ear canal, so that if your dog moves unexpectedly, the applicator will not enter the ear canal.
  • Do not use cotton swabs inserted into the ear.
  • If gauze or cotton balls are very soiled, seek veterinary attention in case of ear infection.
  • If bleeding occurs, stop cleaning and seek veterinary attention.

Conclusion

Floppy-eared dogs are prone to ear infections and it is important to remove dirt, debris and moisture from their ears regularly to prevent infections and to clean out the ears during infections. If yeast organisms proliferate they can damage ear structures. Be careful when cleaning ears not to insert anything into the ear canal, as delicate hearing structures can easily be damaged. 

Your floppy eared dog may not appreciate ear cleaning, as it can be irritating and uncomfortable.  Be organized and work quickly but confidently to get your floppy-eared dog to accept ear handling. Be gentle to minimize discomfort. A treat or two probably won't hurt either!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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