How To Clean Dog Ears | Upgrade: July 2020

how to clean dog ears the right way

Knowing how to clean dog ears if you’re a dog owner can be a valuable skill if your pup is prone to ear infections, or needs regular cleanings to maintain their best ear health. Some breeds will require more frequent cleaning than others, and some breeds will require little to no cleanup.

For those dogs that need regular ear cleanings, proper cleaning technique with the right supplies can make the process move along quickly and smoothly. Ear cleaning typically focuses on the external ear canal which is readily visible but may be layered with hair of various thicknesses.

Check The Dogs Ears Regularly

 on how to clean dog ears: Help clean ticks from dogs
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Whether your dog’s ears need frequent cleanings or just a touch up now and then, it’s essential to examine their ears regularly for signs of parasites, infection, irritation, and dirt. These exams can be done at home and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

By checking your dog’s ears at standard intervals, you may be able to catch minor issues before they can grow into more painful problems. If you see anything unusual about your dog’s ears, don’t hesitate to call your vet’s office for more information.

What You Need to Know About Dog Ears

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Different dogs may or may not be sensitive about people touching their ears, but it’s important to remember that dog ears should be handled gently. Preventing infections is vital for protecting sensitive dog ears, but most dogs do not want to have their ears cleaned.

Figuring out how to clean dog ears requires that you work with your dog so that they are comfortable and you can clean their ears safely. Improper cleaning of dog ears can cause damage, discomfort, and irritation.


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The outside flap of the ear that you can see is the pinna, and this may be floppy or stiff. If the pinna is floppy that can restrict airflow to the ear canal and may make the dog more prone to getting ear infections.

Looking inside the ear, you’ll be able to see the space which is called the external canal. This opening travels down into the side of the head and is covered with skin. Cartilage gives the canal structure and can also create visible creases and ridges.

The external canal is coated with a layer of sebum, which is made from a mixture of oil and wax. This oil and wax combination is then excreted through the glands in the canal and work in much the same way that human earwax does.


At the end of the external canal is the eardrum which is a thin tissue that responds to sound waves and vibrates. The eardrum assists the dog with hearing and also protects the middle and inner ear areas.

Inside the eardrum, you will find the middle and inner ear which house fragile structures that are part of your dog’s hearing and balance functions. Damage to this part of the ear can affect your dog’s balance and hearing and may also be permanent.

Why Do Dog Ears Need Cleaning?

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When dirt, debris, and wax build up in the external canal of your dog’s ear irritation and inflammation can occur. These foreign substances can get lodged in the creases and ridges of the external canal and even cause infection.

Floppy dog ears are more prone to infection because they have less air flow into the external canal. This lack of airflow creates a more humid environment that is more likely to expedite an infection. Some dogs naturally produce too much wax or oil in their ears which has also been shown to make infections more likely.

Have A Bacteria

Dog ears all have a certain number of bacteria and yeast inside them. But dogs that experience multiple infections may harbor more than most. If a dog’s ear is itchy or painful, they may have an external ear infection. That could lead to a middle or inner ear infection if left uncleaned.

Ear infections can be painful and itchy for dogs. And as a result, they may shake their heads more than usual. This excessive shaking can rupture blood vessels in the ear itself that may appear as little pockets of blood. These pockets are called aural hematomas and one of the signs of an ear infection.

Other signs of infection include a distinctive odor, skin redness or irritation in the external canal, excessive debris or other discharge, and frequent scratching of the ears. Infections prevent with regular cleanings with proper ear cleaner and the right supplies.

How To Clean Dog Ears: Making It A Positive Experience 

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It is very likely that your dog will not welcome having their ears cleaned. Unless they’ve had several positive experiences beforehand. Many dogs have very sensitive ears and don’t like having them touched at all.

To expedite the cleaning process, and perform it without damaging your dog’s ears. You’ll want to help your dog learn that ear cleaning is a positive thing. Owners frequently employ the use of treats to teach their dogs to associate ear cleaning with a pleasant experience.

Even with the use of treats, your dog may still resist. And it’s a good idea to practice patience and help them slowly become accustomed to getting their ears cleaned. This process may take more than one session spread out over multiple days. Until a positive association forms, and the dog is less resistant.

What You Need to Be Prepared On How To Clean Dog Ears

 on how to clean dog ears: French Bulldog in the clinic to check
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Before you begin cleaning your dog’s ears, you’ll want to have all of the necessary tools and supplies on hand. And within arm’s reach of where you’ll be working. Once you familiarize yourself with how to clean dog ears you’ll want to gather the following items:

When selecting your supplies make sure that you have enough of each within reach for the whole process. Quality ear cleaning solution is highly recommended, and several different kinds are available online.

Avoid any ear cleaners that contain hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol. As these can irritate the sensitive tissues inside your dog’s ear.

How to Properly Clean Your Dog’s Ears

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Many owners like to clean their dog’s ears in the bathtub or outside. As this is the easiest place to clean up any messes that you make. Expect that your dog will shake their head during this process. And whatever is inside of their ears may come flying out onto you, the walls, or the surrounding area.

Inspect The Ears

First, inspect the ears and get an idea of how dirty they are. So you can play what tools to use to clean them. If there’s an excessive amount of hair, you may want to use the tweezers to pluck some. Your vet or a groomer can provide valuable advice about whether your dog’s ears should be pluck.

Next, you’ll want to take the ear cleaner and apply a few drops to the inside flap of the ear. Without putting the bottle inside of the ear. Squirt a small amount into the external canal and begin to massage the base of the ear near the jaw before the dog can shake their head.

Hear A Smacking Sound

At this point, you should hear a smacking sound and massage will be helping to break up dirt and debris from the creases and ridges on the inside of the ear. After a few seconds of massaging, you can allow your dog to shake their head.

To keep yourself and your surroundings a little drier and cleaner. You may want to hold up a towel at this point to catch any cleaner or debris that comes out of your dog’s ears. Once your dog has finished shaking. Moisten some cotton balls or pads with more ear cleaner and wipe out the external canal of the ear.

Work With Your Dog On How To Clean Dog Ears

If you haven’t done it before, learning how to clean dog ears can seem like a daunting process. However, by working with your dog, you can quickly remove stubborn dirt and debris with cotton-tipped applicators. Or more ear cleaner and massage. Once the ear is clean, switch to the other ear and repeat the process once more.

At the end of the ear cleaning, be sure to reward your dog with a proper treatment and lots of praise for a job well done.

Here’s A Video On How To Clean A Dog’s Ears – In Detail



Tips and Tricks On How To Clean Dog Ears

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If your dog’s ears are particularly dirty, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure that everything is ok. You also don’t want to clean your dog’s ears too often. Because this can disrupt the natural balance of flora that helps to keep your dog’s ear health in check.

Once a week cleaning should be sufficient for most dogs. However, some can go even two or three weeks between cleanings. Even if you don’t need to clean your dog’s ears every week. It’s still a good idea to give them a once over every week to ensure they don’t look irritated or inflamed.

If your dog doesn’t seem to be a fan of ear cleaning, don’t worry. Many dogs have to have their ears cleaned several times before they become accustomed to it.

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