Blog by Irene Hislop
Ear cleaning isn’t likely to be your favourite dog grooming task – or your dog’s, but ear-care is something to take in your stride.
Before you even try to clean your dog’s ears, it helps to make sure they are used to you handling them. So when you have a bit of time and your dog is relaxed, start by rubbing their ears and offering some treats.
Gently flip their ear up and have a look. Do you see any build-up? Is the skin pink or an inflamed red? Does the ear smell foul? If the ear looks fine and your dog is happy to have you rub it, there’s no need for a clean. But if it is waxy, a clean is in order. If the ear seems infected or smells like yeast, it’s better to call your vet than to try to clean it.
Canine Ear Anatomy 101
Knowing a bit about a dog’s ears before you start can prevent injuries and make the job easier and quicker.
Dogs have very long ear canals. This is why it is so important to know how to clean dog ears. Those long canals don’t easily expel wax, debris, dirt, etc. on their own.
Their ear drums are at the end of the ear canal, and beyond that lies the middle and then the inner ear.
Their ear flaps need attention too, whether they are long and droopy or short and upright. Some dogs grow a lot of fur on the inside of their ear flaps, which can trap dirt and moisture close to the ear canal if it isn’t cleaned regularly. This part of your dog’s ear is called the pinna.
What You Need to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Before you clean your dog’s ears for the first time, you might need to do some shopping. You should be able to find what you need from a pet shop or your vet’s clinic.
- Ear cleaning solution. Chopse one for dogs!
- Dog treats. Bribery is essential for many dogs!
- Cotton balls, gauze or clean wash clothes or rags.
- A towel isn’t essential, but it can protect your clothes from getting splattered with ear drops.
That’s it! Now you’re ready.
How to Clean Dog Ears Step-by-Step
Before you start, assemble the things you need and pick a comfy spot where your dog will be relaxed. This isn’t normally a very messy job, but your dog is likely to shake their head and send drops of ear cleaner everywhere.
- Give your dog a treat.
- Lift up the pinna of one ear.
- Squeeze a generous amount of ear cleaner into the ear.
- Gently massage around the base of the ear. If you hear it swishing around, you’re doing it right.
- Let your dog shake their head. This will help move debris out of the ear canal.
- Give your dog another treat.
- Use your cotton wool, gauze or cloth to wipe the inside of the pinna and the opening of the ear. Don’t push anything into the ear canal.
- You’re done with that ear, and your dog would love another treat.
This should not cause any pain. If your dog appears to be in pain, a trip to the vet is in order. Many dogs do, however, resist ear cleaning. They don’t understand what you’re doing and it feels weird. It’s fine to take it very slow if your dog resists.
This is sometimes a two-person job. One person can hold the dog, reassure them and provide a steady flow of treats while the other cleans the ear.
Signs of Ear Trouble
Knowing how to clean dog ears is important, and it’s also critical to know when not to clean them. If your dog is scratching their ears frequently or shaking their head a lot, it can indicate an ear problem such as an inner ear infection.
If your dog shakes their head a lot, they can develop hematomas in their ear flaps.
Dizziness can also be a symptom of an ear infection.
The best thing to do is to get them to the vet. Don’t try to clean their ears at home first. Your vet will have the proper equipment to get a good look into the ear canal as well as the expertise to diagnose and treat the problem.
In case you are looking for some nutritional, heathy treats: