Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Have you experienced calling or stating commands to your beloved dog only for them not to respond? There are obviously a number of reasons for disobedience, from lack of training through to cries for attention however sometimes all your dog may need is a good ear cleaning – and this is something you, his equally beloved human, and responsible owner can help carry out for your pet.

As a doggy parent, one of your main priorities is to ensure your dog is at optimum health at all times. One of the ways you can do this is through simple grooming tricks carried out regularly, one of which includes cleaning your dog’s ears.  However, although it may sound simple one quick word of warning – You have to be prepared that at first the procedure of cleaning your dogs ears will not always be something they’re comfortable with. But by understanding the important of cleaning your pup’s ears and doing so frequently, your pet will become used to the process and soon will even come to love having their ears cleaned – especially if it means they can hear you more clearly when it comes to walkies or treats time.

3 Benefits of Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Your dogs’ ear canals can be up to 10cm long and include a right-angle bend; with this structure often making it far too easy for foreign material to enter, but hard to get out. This may mean the dirt inside your dog’s ears may go unnoticed, and as a result not cleaning your dog’s ears can lead to ear infections and other irritations. If not monitored or combated ear infections can advance to more serious health conditions.

The number one best way to clean your dogs ears is to make ear inspections and examinations a part of your routine grooming check up so you can detect any signs of any ear infections and other issues related to your pets ears early. The sooner you notice any issues your dog is dealing with, the better and means you can offer relief to your dog’s discomfort sooner.

Ideally you should clean your canine ears at least once a month, however this can be made more regular if you have a particular messy pup. One thing to remember is don’t be scared to clean your dog’s ears; it can be pretty easy and simple as long as you’re careful and the following section of this guide is going to lay out everything you need to know about cleaning your dogs ears effectively.

What You Need To Clean Your Dogs Ears

Ready to clean your dog’s ears? Hopefully the introduction above has covered some good reasons why it is important for you to regularly clean your dogs ears. However even with that in mind you might still be unsure where to start. Before jumping into the process of how to clean your pets ears thoroughly you need to consider the equipment that will be most useful.

Here’s what to use to clean out your pets ears:

Cotton Balls

When it comes to cleaning your dogs ears cotton balls are your friend. It is important to remember not to use Q-tips as they can hurt your dog’s ears instead of cleaning them, often pushing material deeper into the ear canal, or worse, rupturing and damage the eardrum. Cotton balls are more preferable to use as they are softer on your dogs skin, however you will only be able to use them for wiping dirt off the outer parts of the ears, to get a little deeper you need to be a little bit more prepared.

Ear Cleaning Liquid

To really clean your dog’s ears thoroughly you will need help getting to parts of the ear that cotton bars just can’t reach. Luckily there are different kinds of ear cleaners that you can use to help do this. However it is still important you make sure that the product you decide to use is of good quality. We recommend going for commercial ear cleaners that are completely safe, and will help do the job effectively. We also suggest you choose an ear cleaner that doesn’t include any alcohol, steroids, antibiotics or poisonous materials of any kind to ensure your dog is kept completely safe.

If you aren’t comfortable with commercial ear cleaners, then you can even opt to go for homemade ear cleaner made from equal parts of rubbing alcohol and vinegar. However, don’t use the homemade ear rinse if you suspect your dog to have any kind of ear infection, and don’t pour this mixture directly inside your dog’s ear. Also one quick tip is to make sure the mixture is at room temperature before using; after all you wouldn’t want to suddenly feel ice cold liquid inside your ears, would you?

Dog Treats

Any experience will already know that dog treats are a great way to keep a dog at ease. Giving dog treats during and after the ear cleaning process will keep your dog relaxed and comfortable and also help them to associate having their ears cleaned with being rewarded for good behavior.

cleaning a dogs ears

The Ear Cleaning Process

Your pets ears are sensitive objects; dogs may not like their ears being cleaned, but as outlined above you have to get the job done. However what this does mean is you don’t immediately go ahead and just start cleaning your dogs’ ears without any preparation  You still have to inspect the ears and prepare the your dog for cleaning to make sure you don’t startle or unnerve your pet.

If cleaning your dog’s ears makes you uncomfortable, then you might find that the best way to clean dogs ears is to ask your veterinarian for assistance. Either the vet will give you lessons and tips that’ll make it easy for you to clean dogs’ ears without hurting the dog, or can recommend a grooming expert who can carry out the procedure for you for a fee.

It is also worth bearing in mind that ear cleaning can get a bit messy, so its important to carry it out in a place that’s easy to clean afterwards. With that in mind, wear clothes that you can get dirty and messy in.  Before starting you should also have everything ready; you wouldn’t want to start,  get your dog comfortable only to realize that you’re missing something that is sitting half way across the room!

Inspecting the Dog’s Ears

First, check the actual condition of your dog’s ears. To do this have your dog either sit or stand in front of you with a good view of their ear canal.

It is important you consult your veterinarian first for advice if you encounter any of the following:

  • scabs, scratches, wounds
  • itchy, painful, inflamed and red ears
  • thick waxy material
  • any drainage of fluid coming from the ears.

If there’s any of the aforementioned, then don’t proceed with ear cleaning. These can be a sign of infection that can worsen if you don’t carry out the ear cleaning process correctly.

You can go ahead with cleaning your dogs ears if all you see is earwax or dirt. Don’t go too deep into the ear canal unless you’ve been given clear instructions from an expert or have carried out the procedure before.


Next, dip a cotton ball into your ear rinse. Squeeze out any excess liquid; the cotton ball should be wet, but it should not be dripping. Wipe the ear’s outer flap, particularly the parts that are easy to see. You may need to use a couple of cotton balls especially if the ears are dirtier than usual.

There are some who are comfortable with irrigating dogs’ ears; if you’re skilled or confident enough, then the best way to clean dogs’ ears is to drench the inside of the ears by pouring ear cleaner into the ear canal and then massaging the base of the dog’s ear gently for about 30 to 60 seconds. Hearing a squelchy noise means you’re doing it correctly. Let go once you’re done massaging.

Your dog will now shake their head. Use cotton balls to wipe the gunk that comes out of your dog’s ears.

Wrapping Up

As long as you’re gentle and you don’t irritate your dog’s ears, then you should be able to finish the procedure quite quickly without annoying or hurting your dog. Give your dog hugs and treats once you’re done to make the experience as positive as possible for them.

Once your dog is used to having their ears cleaned and it doesn’t feel any pain during the process, soon their be more comfortable, and the procedure can be completed faster. With treats and affection, ear cleaning is an activity that your pet will soon love and look forward.

More Resources

If you’re still looking for some more help when it comes to cleaning your dog’s ears check out our roundup of other resources below:

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