How to Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean? 

Sooner or later, most dog parents will find themselves wondering how to clean a dog’s ears. And for good reason. 

Hidden away in the tiny crevices of a dog’s ears, ear dirt invariably finds a way to cause trouble to your dog, like infections, ear pain, itchiness, and other ear-related issues. 

A dog’s ear canal is longer than that of a human’s, so dirt, dust, and debris can easily accumulate. And thanks to the droopiness and a thick coat of fur around the outer ear in some dogs, you may even miss detecting ear infections until it’s too late. 

Think you’ve neglected your dog’s ears for too long? Don’t worry! 

From a handy guide to cleaning your dog’s ears to learning why it’s important to keep its ears clean, here’s everything you need to know about ear cleaning for dogs.

Easy Steps To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

While cleaning a dog’s ears is quite easy, it should always be done only if your dog is comfortable. If your dog happens to be one among the friendliest dog breeds, the task might not prove to be a challenge. Otherwise, you’ll have to work hard to make your pet feel at ease before you begin. 

Gently stroke your dog’s ears, and if your dog reacts positively, you can go ahead and start cleaning them. But if your dog pulls away or starts whining, don’t force it. They may have an ear infection, in which case going to the vet is a better idea. 

So, how to clean a dog’s ears? Here are a few simple steps that will help you get the job done thoroughly and painlessly at home. 

Step 1: Prep For Ear Cleaning 

First, you need to organize a few essential supplies for ear cleaning. This would typically include vet-approved items such as a cleaning solution that’s specifically designed for a dog’s ears. Stick to a prescribed solution as it would typically contain dog-friendly ingredients. 

Besides the cleaning agent, you’ll need cotton balls or gauze. Anything non-abrasive like a cut-up piece of cloth will also work. 

If your vet has prescribed post-cleaning medications like ointments or gels, keep them handy before you start the process.

ALSO READ: Uses of Coconut Oil for Dogs

Step 2: Lift The Flap 

In the second step, you lift the ear flap to expose the inner ear before you begin to clean it. 

This step could be tricky. If your dog doesn’t want its ears to be touched, accomplishing this step is going to be challenging. If you’re gripping the tip of its ear, grip it gently but firmly. Talking to your pup in a loving tone and maintaining eye contact is a good way to ease your dog into the process. 

Step 3: Introducing The Ear Cleaning Solution 

When cleaning your dog’s ears, you need to introduce the ear cleaning solution into the inner ear. Since a dog’s eardrum is delicate and extremely sensitive, drop in the solution with precise movements. 

There are two ways to go about this. 

One is to carefully fit the tip of the ear wash bottle into the ear canal and allow the solution to drip in with a slight squeeze. 

The second way is to moisten a large cotton ball with a few drops of the ear wash and gently dab it into the ear canal. 

Step 4: The Massage 

Once the ear wash is applied into the ear canal, you need to massage the base of your dog’s ear to help the solution settle in. 

Use gentle strokes while massaging as too much tugging and pulling will hurt your dog. 

You’ll probably hear the ear wash spiraling in the ear canal. Don’t be alarmed since this is a sign your dog’s ears are getting cleaned. 

Step 5: Give Your Dog A Break 

Thanks to the ear wash in its ears, your dog will probably want to shake its head to feel more comfortable. This is a part of the process, so let it happen. 

The shaking will allow the ear wash to swish against the walls of your dog’s ear canal. This will lubricate the area, loosen the debris, and bring it to the surface. 

Step 6: The Real Cleaning 

This is when the actual cleaning starts. Now that your dog’s ear canal is well-moistened and washed by the cleaning solution, you must be wondering, what can I clean my dog’s ears with? Wrap some gauze or a soft cotton fabric around your finger to clean the dirt and debris. 

Gently and slowly introduce your gauze-wrapped finger into your dog’s ear canal, and make sure you don’t get too invasive as that could damage your dog’s eardrum. Apply circular movements to wipe the area thoroughly. 

Depending on the amount of debris in your dog’s ear, you may have to repeat this step a couple of times. As long as you’re using sanitary materials and gentle movements, you can do this step as many times as needed. 

Step 7: The Final Touches 

Once you’ve successfully removed all the dirt and debris from your dog’s ear, take a piece of gauze or cotton and wipe away the dirt on and around the ear flap. 

Inspect the ear canal as well as the flap one more time just to be sure. You don’t want to leave any shreds of cotton balls or gauze behind in your dog’s ears. 

If all looks well, you can apply any medications that your vet may have prescribed. 

Step 8: Time For Treats

After all that trouble of sitting through an irritating ear cleaning session, your dog deserves a treat. Remember to reward your pup with its favorite snacks, toys, and hugs. 

Treating your dog to its favorite chews before ear cleaning will help your dog stay calm.

ALSO READ: Benefits of Garlic for Dogs

Why Is It Important To Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean?

A dog’s ears get dirty often, and their longer ear canals allow for ample space for dirt and bacteria to hide in. 

Giving your dog a bath once every few weeks is not enough to clean your dog’s ears. 

Have you ever looked into your dog’s ears and wondered, “What is the brown stuff in my dog’s ears?” It’s not just ear wax; it could also be bacteria, ear mites, or a sign of a yeast infection. 

Here’s why it’s important to clean your dog’s ears every once in a while. 

Bacterial/Yeast Infections 

Dogs have an L-shaped passage in their ear canals. And unlike humans who have horizontal ear canals, a dog’s ear canals are vertical. 

When you give your dog a bath and forget to wipe its ears dry, water seeps into its ears. This creates an ideal environment for bacterial, yeast, or fungal infections to develop. 

Ear Mites 

Wondering, “Why are the inside of my dog’s ears so dirty?” It could be ear mites! 

Ear mites are smelly pests that love hiding in ear wax. If you notice your dog obsessively scratching its ears, it’s probably ear mites causing a torturous itch. Cleaning your dog’s ears regularly will keep ear mites away. 

Cushing’s Disease And Allergies 

Skin infections are a common symptom of Cushing’s disease in dogs. Keeping your dog’s ears clean at all times will effectively eliminate the risk of this disease. 

If your dog has seasonal or food allergies, the chances of it contracting ear infections are higher. Cleaning your dog’s ears can also help you manage infections and allergies a whole lot better.

Homemade Solutions To Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

If you prefer DIY ear cleaning sessions and are wondering “what can I use to clean my dog’s ears at home,” here are a few homemade solutions that will do the trick. 

A Vinegar Ear Wash 

Making a vinegar solution at home is the simplest thing you could do to clean your dog’s ears. 

Mix equal parts water and vinegar, and pour a few drops of this concoction onto a cotton ball to clean your dog’s ears. 

Healing Essential Oils 

Essential oils are natural yet effective ingredients for cleaning your dog’s ears. Safe on your dog’s skin, your dog will also benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties. 

Essential oils like tea tree oil mixed with a carrier oil like olive oil make for a great ear wash solution. Essential oils are known to soothe skin irritation and reduce the risk of ear infections. 

Cleansing Witch Hazel 

Is your dog prone to ear mites? Most older dogs are. Use witch hazel as a cleaning solution for extra protection against ear mites, bacteria, and debris. 

Witch hazel can help kill ear mites and flush them as well as ear dirt out of your dog’s ears. And since it dries really fast, witch hazel is a great ingredient to use when you’re cleaning your dog’s ears at home.

Dog Ear Discharge: Should I Be Worried?

Most dogs experience a mild level of ear discharge. And since some dogs’ ears naturally produce more wax than others, a little bit of ear discharge is normal. Having said that, dog ear discharge usually indicates the presence of an underlying health problem, so you might want to visit a vet to know for sure. 

If you notice that your dog’s ears have an unusual redness or swelling along with a smelly discharge, it could be a sign of an infection. 

Dogs who shake their heads too often and too vigorously may also need to get their ears checked. 

If there’s discharge along with itchiness, there may be a slight cause for concern. And if you’re wondering, “Why is my dog bleeding from the ear,” it’s time to visit your vet immediately. 

Since dogs are prone to ear problems as they grow older, any kind of ear discharge should be looked into immediately. 

Dog ear discharge can be tested, diagnosed, and treated, so it’s not a major cause for concern. Typically, your vet will run a few routine tests like a cytological test, a physical examination, and a culture test to check for ear mites, bacteria, yeast, hypothyroidism, and so on. 

Based on the test results, your vet will then suggest the best course of treatment. Usually, all treatments begin with a proper ear cleaning session. And if it’s manageable, you could even give your dog the care it needs at home. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Cleaning your dog’s ears for the first time? Here are some frequently asked questions about dog ear cleaning answered! 

Can I Clean My Dog’s Ears With Hydrogen Peroxide?

Since hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfectant, it’s safe to use on your dog’s ears. It is known to destroy cell wall bacteria and can thus effectively clean your dog’s ears. However, if it’s overused or if the solution is too strong, it can inflame your dog’s skin. 

Before using hydrogen peroxide, consult your vet to find out how often you should clean your dog’s ears. 

Is Vinegar Safe For Cleaning A Dog’s Ears?

Since vinegar stabilizes the pH levels in a dog’s ears, it will safely and properly clean your dog’s ears. To be cautious, don’t use more than 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and always mix it with clean water before applying it. 

Can Cotton Buds Be Used To Clean Ears?

Cotton buds can damage your dog’s ears. Since cotton buds go into the ear canal, they can disturb the eardrum and cause problems like ear rashes and skin irritation. Using your finger and gauze is a safer cleaning option. 

Over-the-Counter Cleaning Solutions vs. Vet-Prescribed Cleaning Solutions: Which is Better?

Vet-prescribed cleaning solutions are undeniably better because they are medically approved and sanctioned for use by an expert who has examined your dog’s ears. 

Your vet may prescribe you OTC medications for your dog, but having a prescription for it along with additional instructions and the right dosage makes all the difference.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is not just a part of their overall grooming, but it’s also an effective and preventive tactic to keep your dog healthy and infection-free. 

If you are worried about how to clean a dog’s ears at home, this guide to dog ear cleaning should help you get started. And whether you clean your dog’s ears at home or seek a professional’s help, keeping your dog’s ears clean ensures long-term benefits for both your dog and you. 

Written by Priya rai

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