How to Clean Stinky Puppy Ears

Medium
2 - 5 Minutes
2 Weeks

Introduction

So you've just gotten a new puppy! You're totally obsessed, and who wouldn't be? He's so soft! His little paws are just so small! His little nose is just so boopable! His ears are so...wait, what's that smell? His ears are pretty smelly right now, actually...

Smelly puppy ears are usually a sign that your pup's ears have become a breeding ground for bacteria or yeast, or are at the very least dirty and should be cleaned.

Don't despair! This can be normal when a dog's ears are floppy or very hairy. Luckily, cleaning your puppy's ears is simple, and you are at the perfect stage in his life to make this grooming ritual fun and rewarding, rather than stressful or scary.

Dog's Perspective

To your puppy, ear cleaning might seem scary at first. But puppies are at the perfect age to be exposed to new things. They don't have routines or established fears yet, and should be encouraged to see, smell, hear and get used to as many novel things as possible during this impressionable time of their lives - including having their ears touched, held and cleaned.

If ear cleaning is made out to be an exciting or rewarding activity - through tone of voice, praise and treats - a puppy can quickly become used to and even look forward to it. And because regular ear cleaning is an important part of overall dog grooming health, that will make a world of difference for you as he grows up.

Alternatively, to a puppy, everything new and novel can seem like a game. Therefore being sat down for an ear cleaning can elicit movement and energy, a desire to play or squirm rather than stay still. This isn't your pup's fault - just something to keep in mind when preparing for his first ear cleaning session.

The Cotton Ball Method

Effective
0 Votes
Towel
Step
1
Set a fun scene
In addition to gathering your materials (in this case, cotton balls, a dog-specific ear cleaner, treats), be prepared to set the scene as one that is fun and not scary. When you call your pup over, consider giving him a treat right away, and make sure that your tone of voice is bright - this is a new situation for your puppy, so take the opportunity to let him know that it is associated with good things and a reward.
Step
2
Call in reinforcements
Puppies can be squirmy, and this might make cleaning their ears more difficult. Consider asking a friend for help. Their job will be to lightly place their hands on your puppy's shoulders or on the sides of his face to keep his head still during this grooming session. They can also work to distract your pup from what is happening by offering regular treats, talking to them or patting their head. Extremely wriggly dogs might benefit from the use of a large towel placed loosely around their neck and held at the point of their shoulders to provide better control of their head.
Step
3
Prepare the cotton balls
Soak a few cotton balls in the dog-specific ear cleaning solution.
Step
4
Start by cleaning the vertical canal
In order to safely access your puppy's vertical ear canal (the upper part of the inner ear), grasp the pinna (the outer ear) and pull gently upward - this stretches the vertical canal so that the ear cleaning solution can trickle all the way down into the inner ear. Place a soaked cotton ball in your dog's ear, lower the pinna and rub the outer part of the ear to squeeze the cleaning solution down into your dog's ear. If your puppy becomes anxious or squirmy, ask your friend to offer him some treats or tap on his forehead to distract him.
Step
5
Clean the outer ear
As you remove the cotton ball from your dog's ear canal, use it to pick up and remove any debris dislodged from the inner ear. Repeat until no more debris is evident, and use the remaining cotton balls soaked in cleaning solution to scrub any debris evident on the inside of the outer ear.
Step
6
Offer a reward
As you wrap up, be sure to offer your puppy more treats, praise him and spend some time petting or playing with him. Hopefully this will solidify in his mind that ear cleaning is something to look forward to (or tolerate), for treats, and every subsequent grooming session will become easier. In the meantime, be sure to gently touch and hold your puppy's ears as often as you can, so that ear cleaning (and ear medications, if ever required) become routine, rather than a source of fear or anxiety.
Recommend grooming method?

The Cotton Swab Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Make ear cleaning fun!
In addition to gathering your materials (in this case, q-tips, square gauze or cotton balls, a dog-specific ear cleaner, treats), be prepared to set the scene as one that is fun and not scary for your pup. When you first call him over to the table or spot on the floor you've set up (consider laying down a blanket or towel to make it extra comfortable), consider giving him a treat right away, and make sure that your tone of voice is bright - this is a novel situation for your puppy, so take the opportunity to let him know that it is associated with good things and lots of rewards.
Step
2
Grab a partner
Puppies can be squirmy, and this might make cleaning their ears more difficult. Consider asking a friend for help. Their job will be to lightly place their hands on your puppy's shoulders or on the sides on his face to keep his head still during this type of grooming. They can also work to distract your pup from what is happening by offering regular treats, talking to them or patting their head - with enough distraction from the task at hand, he might not even be bothered by what's happening to his ears!
Step
3
Soak your supplies
Soak the cotton end of the swabs with the dog-friendly ear cleaner.
Step
4
Cautiously clean your dog's vertical canal
In order to safely access your puppy's vertical ear canal (the upper part of the inner ear), grasp the pinna (the outer ear) and pull gently upward - this stretches the vertical canal. Use a soaked Q-tip to GENTLY clean the vertical canal - insert the swab straight down into the canal, but be careful not to push too deeply, so as not to irritate or damage the ear drum. Gently twirl the Q-tip and lift out any debris that is dislodged. Repeat until no more debris is present. If your puppy reacts with a movement of his head that your partner cannot control, don't proceed until he has calmed down - you need your pup to keep his head still to prevent the swab from going too deep or pressing too hard inside his ear.
Step
5
Scrub the outer ear
Soak the gauze squares or cotton balls in ear cleaning solution and use them to scrub and remove any gunk evident on the inside of the outer ear.
Step
6
Reward time!
As you wrap up, be sure to offer your puppy more treats, praise him and spend some time petting or playing with him. Hopefully, this will solidify in his mind that ear cleaning is something to look forward to. In the meantime, be sure to gently touch and hold your puppy's ears during downtime or playtime as often as you can, so that handling his ear for grooming becomes familiar.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • There are a few things to be especially careful of when cleaning your dog's ears:¬†
  • Do NOT use anything except an ear cleaner specifically made for use on dogs, or another solution recommended by a veterinary professional¬†
  • If your pup's ears continue to smell after cleaning, or become red, itchy or painful, you should bring your dog to the vet to rule out infection, or allergy - regular cleaning will not resolve those problems¬†
  • As with human ears, it is of the utmost importance to not push too deeply into the ear or clean too roughly, lest you cause damage to the eardrum. Stop if you feel any resistance or if your dog reacts painfully¬†
  • Do not over-clean your puppy's ears, as this can cause more irritation and skin sensitivity - depending on the level of debris present in your dog's ears, cleanings once every two-to-four weeks should be sufficient

Conclusion

If your puppy's ears are getting smelly, odds are that they need to be cleaned, and that cleaning them regularly will be required in order to keep them healthy and smelling new-puppy fresh from here on out! But this is the perfect time to get the newest addition to your family used to this important aspect of regular, healthy grooming. As long as you make the job fun and rewarding, you can set your puppy up for a lifetime of easy-peasy, stress-free ear cleanings. Your groomer, your vet, your dog and your nose will thank you!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd