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Ear cleaning is an important aspect of grooming for every dog that shouldn't be neglected. Each dog differs in how often their ears need to be cleaned, with some dogs (e.g. those prone to ear infections) benefitting from frequent ear cleaning and others rarely needing any. If your dog regularly visits a professional groomer, it's likely that their ears are cleaned there, although it's a good idea to check with your groomer to verify. Either way, it's a good idea as a pet owner to know how to clean your dog’s ears.
What Supplies Can I Use to Clean My Dog's Ears?
Properly cleaning your pup's ears begins with gathering the right supplies. Here's what you need:
- Ear cleanser. Look for an ear cleaner specially designed for pets, free from potential irritants like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. If you're not sure whether something is okay to use on your dog, simply ask your vet or dog groomer: "What can I clean my dog's ears with?"
- Cotton balls or pads. Cotton swabs can be used to clean the ridges of the outer ear, but should never be inserted in the ear canal. This could cause permanent hearing damage to your dog.
- Tweezers. These are good to have on hand if your dog has a lot of hair in their ears.
- A towel. This is recommended for containing potential messes, especially as a dog will often shake their head when something gets in their ears.
- Treats. You'll want to reward your pup when it's all done.
How to Clean Dog Ears
Before you begin, take a moment to inspect your dog's ears. If they appear red or inflamed, they smell bad, or your dog shows signs that they itch, stop what you're doing and contact your vet. Your dog may have an infection or an infestation of ear mites, either of which will need to be treated. If your dog has a lot of hair, use tweezers to clear hair out of the ear canal. Once the ears are clear and everything appears normal, read the directions on the ear cleanser. You can also follow this step-by-step process to clean your pooch's ears:
- After getting your pup to sit, reward them with a treat and allow them to inspect the bottle of ear cleaner.
- Hold the ear flap upright and carefully fill the ear canal with cleaning solution.
- Keeping the ear flap out of the way, gently massage the base of the ear with your fingers for about twenty seconds.
- Release the ear and allow your dog to shake their head if they desires. Hold a towel over their head to prevent solution from flying everywhere.
- Use a cotton ball or a cotton pad wrapped around your index finger to gently wipe the visible part of your dog's ear canal and outer ear. Use a cotton swab only if necessary and only on the visible portion of your dog's ear.
- Reward your pup with another treat and then repeat these steps for the other ear.
Tips and Tricks to Make Dog Ear Cleaning Easier
The steps for how to clean dog ears are pretty straightforward, but these tips might help make the process easier for both you and your pooch.
• Unless you want water everywhere, make sure your dog is in a confined area! Place your dog in the bathtub or bring him outside. Make sure you're wearing old clothing that won't get ruined if it gets splashed with cleansing solution.
• Speaking of cleansing solution, don’t skimp! There's a lot more to your dog's ear canal than the part you can see, and it’s important to fill the entire canal to make sure the ear is properly cleaned. Any excess cleanser that doesn't get wiped out will be expelled by your dog shaking his head. If the ears still appear dirty when you're done, go ahead and repeat the process, but stop immediately if you notice redness or bleeding, or if your dog shows signs of discomfort.
How Often Should You Clean Dog Ears?
Some dogs, especially those with short ears and not a lot of hair, may only need to have their ears wiped out occasionally when they begin to look dirty. Dogs with floppy ears and those with a lot of hair around the ears should have a more thorough inspection and cleaning at least every other week.
Knowing how to clean dog ears is a fundamental part of grooming your pet. Making sure this is done on a regular basis will help protect their hearing and ensure that your pup's ears stay healthy throughout their life.
Again — if you need more advice and encouragement, please visit your vet. If you don't have a current vet, no problem! You can easily find one using our trusty find-a-vet tool.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.