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How to Clean Dog Ears

Clean ears are a vital part of your dog's well-being. Knowing how to clean dog ears will help promote better ear health for your dog. You will need to understand how to make your dog comfortable with ear-cleaning and feel confident about completing this task. After all, you want ear cleaning to be a positive experience for your dog.

How To Clean Dog Ears Most Effectively and What You Need

Some possible signs that your dog's ears need cleaning include:

  • Head-shaking
  • Scratching the ears
  • Visibly dirty appearance

To clean your dog's ears, you'll need an ear-cleaning solution, gauze or a cotton ball, and a towel. You should always avoid cotton-tipped swabs or similar items. These items can harm your pet's ear canal or push dirt further inside the ear.

Take your dog into the bathroom to clean its ears, or if the weather is warm, consider using your yard if you have a hose attachment specifically for washing pets. Your furry friend will be likely to do a lot of head-shaking during this process.

Always use a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaner, especially if your dog has any known medical conditions that impact ear health. Plan to do the cleaning when your dog is calm, and have some treats on hand to use as a reward.

How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears Step by Step:

  1. Gently squeeze the solution into your dog's ears, enough to fill but not flood the ear canals.
  2. Massage the base of your dog's ears for about 30 seconds.
  3. Gently clean the inside of the ear flap as well.
  4. Let your dog shake its head.
  5. After your dog has shaken its head, use the gauze or cotton ball to wipe the inside of the ears clean, no deeper than knuckle-depth.

If your dog appears to be in discomfort or pain during cleaning, stop and get in touch with your vet. The dog might have an infection or other issue that requires attention.

How Often Should You Be Cleaning Dog Ears?

How often you need to clean your dog's ears depends on the breed in many cases. Some dogs are fortunate to require only occasional ear cleaning. Others require more cleaning to prevent dirt buildup. A good rule of thumb is that dogs with healthy ears benefit the most from monthly cleanings.

Breeds that are more likely to require frequent ear cleaning include:

  • Basset hounds
  • Bloodhounds
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Bulldogs
  • Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Terriers

Even though dogs of any breed can get ear infections, the breeds with more extended, droopier ears are more likely to end up with infections. Regularly checking the ears will help you spot problems before they become serious. As a rule of thumb, check your dog's ears after every bath.

If your dog is getting sensitive about having its ears touched, especially if it usually enjoys ear scratches, it might have something going on with its ears that requires your attention.

What Are Some of the Reasons for a Smelly Dog Ear?

Bacterial and yeast infections are some of the most common reasons for dogs' ears to smell. Dogs have ears containing many crevices with a lot of moisture that can easily attract bacteria and yeast. Allergies may cause inflammation and a yeast-like smell.

An ear mite buildup can cause a smell, often described as foul without being rancid. Grass seed, grass or other plant awns, and hair can restrict ventilation, leading to bacterial and yeast growth. Enlarged glands responsible for secreting earwax, growths and polyps, or tumors can also cause these types of problems. Any odor that you do not resolve through cleaning should receive veterinary attention.

Can I Put Peroxide in a Dog's Ear and What Products Should I Use?

Hydrogen peroxide is not safe to use in your dog's ears. The tissue inside dogs' ears is very sensitive, and peroxide can damage this tissue. Long-term use can cause ear damage, which makes ear cleaners that vets recommend a better solution.

Advice for Cleaning Puppy Ears

Puppies have a better chance of accepting ear cleaning when it becomes part of their routine early in life. Treats and praise are useful tools for helping your pup adjust to the routine so that it will be easier to manage as it grows up.

Cleaning your puppy's ears after a play period will help ensure that your dog is reasonably tired. Get the puppy used to having its ears handled before you do any cleaning, complete with massaging the ears' bases and holding the flap.

When you begin cleaning, praise your puppy and give it a treat as you complete each step of the process. The dog will associate having its ears handled with something positive. Go through the steps you would for cleaning an adult dog’s ears; however, avoid putting the gauze or cotton ball too deeply into the puppy's ears.

How To Clean a Dog Ear Infection and Other Problems To Look For

If your dog has an ear infection, your usual cleaning routine may do more harm than good. Consult with your veterinarian if:

  • Your dog seems to be having ear pain
  • The ears have a yeasty smell
  • Your dog's ears are inflamed or red

Although these are common signs of an infection, allergies, ear mites or fleas could be behind the symptoms. You will need to consult with your veterinarian to ensure your dog gets the proper treatment.

Medications to treat your dog's ear infection are safe to administer after cleaning. Always dispense only the amount of medication required, and use gloves. Proper cleaning and medication administration, when needed, will help protect your dog's ear health.