How Can I Get My Dog’s Ears Clean?

cleaning a dog ear

Your dog may be fairly happy to groom himself, but as his owner, you still need to be responsible for the majority of his cleanliness. In addition to his body, there is one other area that you need to pay attention to – his ears. Your dog’s ears are just as sensitive as your own and this means that you must take particular care when cleaning them.

It may surprise you to learn that dogs have fairly unusual ear canals. They can extend anywhere between 5 and 10cm in length and bend at right-angles midway down. Unfortunately, this makes it very easy for dirt, debris and even foreign objects to get in and virtually impossible for them to come out without professional intervention. Like us, their ear canals are also warm, moist environments that provide the perfect opportunity for bacteria to thrive and reproduce. Dogs with longer, floppy ears are especially prone to ear infections and other aural problems since the design of their ears makes the canal even warmer, trapping bacteria inside.

Regularly checking and cleaning your dog’s ears should be a significant priority. If you send your furbaby to a professional groomer then they will probably undertake this task for you. However, as a caring and conscientious owner, it is still important that you understand how to get your dog’s ears clean yourself and how to spot if there are any potential problems developing.

How to clean your dog’s ears

While it is important to clean your dog’s ears fairly regularly, doing so too often can actually irritate the skin, as well as upsetting the delicate balance of oils that is needed for them to stay healthy. Unless your canine pal is known for having particularly dirty ears, cleaning once a month should be sufficient.

You only need three pieces of equipment to successfully clean your dog’s ears. These are:

- A clean washcloth

- Ear cleaning solution

- Treats to reward your dog after!

Ear cleaning solutions are generally recommended by veterinarians since they are specifically formulated for aural health. However, if you do not have any ear cleaning solution and they urgently need doing, cool boiled water will suffice. Never use oil or vinegar (as seen suggested on some websites). These can actually harm your dog’s ears.

Sit your dog down between your knees and hold the flap of his ear upright so that you can fill the ear canal with the cleaning fluid. Then begin massaging his ear at the base on the outside by his face. Doing so will help move the cleaning fluid around his ear canal. He will hear strange sounds, as will you, but he should not be in any pain and this is normally a good indicator that a very thorough clean is in progress! Once you have massaged the base of the ear for around 30 seconds, release your dog’s ear flap. He should instinctively start shaking his head to clear out the fluid – be prepared to get covered! Once he is done shaking, use the washcloth to gently wipe down the outer folds of the ear so that any loose debris that has come out of the canal is removed.

That’s it! Make a big fuss of your furbaby, give him a treat and lots of praise. The rinse and repeat on the other ear!

Never put anything into the ear canal itself, especially not Q-Tips. These could become lost or cause damage to the canal or drum.

How do I know if there is a problem with my dog’s ears?

Regular cleaning is an ideal opportunity for you to examine your dog’s ears to check that everything seems normal. If any of the following symptoms are evident, it is important that you make an appointment with our vet as soon as possible as your furbaby may have an infection or other problem requiring professional intervention.

- Excessive scratching of the ear, resulting in open wounds, bleeding or scabbing

- Redness and swelling in or around the ear

- Colored or foul-smelling discharge from the ear

- Hearing loss

- Persistently shaking his head

- Loss of hair around the ears

- Loss of balance or coordination

- Obvious pain when you touch his ears

If you are concerned that your dog may be experiencing an aural problem, or if you would like further advice on the best way to get your dog’s ears clean, our experienced and friendly staff would be happy to help. Please contact our offices to speak to us or arrange an appointment.