How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears (and How Often You Should Be Doing It)

clean your dogs ears
How to clean your dog’s ears ©shutterstock

Make it a part of your weekly, caring routine to clean your dog’s ears. Ideally, begin this when he is a puppy and he will be quite happy for you to do this. Make it a positive experience and reward him afterwards with a treat.

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Why clean your dog’s ears?

The ears of most canines consist of a long ear canal, around 5 to 10 cm long, which has a bend at right-angles. It’s very easy for debris to accumulate in his ears. Likewise, just about impossible for him to clean by himself. The inside of the ear canal is dark, moist and warm, the ideal bacteria breeding ground. Dogs with very furry or floppy ears are most at risk of ear infections. Their ears tend to collect moisture and debris. If your dog enjoys swimming, he is at an increased risk of infection inside the ear canal.

dog scratching his ear
a puppy scratching his ears can be signs of an infection ©shutterstock

How often should you clean your dog’s ears?

This certainly depends on a number of factors; how often does your dog swim; where you take your dog for a walk; what type of ears does your dog have?

For the majority of pets, you can clean your dog’s ears once a month. However, a weekly inspection of the ears is best. During this examination, you can check for any symptoms of irritation, mites, dirt or infection. By carrying out this weekly check you might notice a minor issue that you can put right immediately. Look inside the dog’s ears and inspect for signs of wan build-up, dirt, discharge or signs of redness. Look out for the following signs that need medical examination:

# Inflammation or swelling (ears can feel hot when you touch them)

# Darker coloured discharge

# Nasty odour

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# Any pain when you touch the dog’s ears

discharge from a dogs ears
Any nasty discharge needs further examination ©shutterstock

Begin when your pet is a small puppy

If you start this ear inspection and cleaning routine when he is a small pup, it will soon become routine. Be very gentle and always make it a positive experience, preferably when your dog is quite relaxed. Of course, always reward with a cuddle or treat.

Steps to clean your dog’s ears

No 1. Collect all your cleaning supplies: cotton wool balls, ear cleaning solution and warm water

No 2. If your dog is quite large, ask someone to help. Otherwise, place him on your knee or a table.

No 3. Take the tip of his ear and hold between forefinger and thumb. Now gently fold the earlobe back to give you clear vision into the inner ear.

No 4. Examine the ear for any discharge or redness. If you notice light brown coloured wax, this is typical and of no concern. However red or black discharge or any sign of pus could mean an ear infection.

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No 5. Using a damp cotton wool ball, wipe inside the dog’s ear, very gently.

No 6. If you notice a lot of debris or ear wax, apply a topical ear cleaning solution into the ear. These solutions usually have an applicator to make using it easier. Once you’ve applied the solution, massage around the base of the dog’s ears. You will probably discover that your dog loves this attention.

No 7. Take another cotton wool ball and wipe inside the ear to remove excess debris.

Under no circumstances should you ever use a Q-tip or cotton wool bud to clean your dog’s ears.

clean your dog's ears
A weekly inspection will check your dog’s ears for any infection ©shutterstock

Medical attention

If you notice your dog scratching at his ears, tilting or shaking his head, he could possibly have an ear infection. Likewise, if ear mites are present, he will need some prescribed medication. Don’t hesitate to seek canine medical advice.

Read More: How can I tell if my dog is bored?

I live in County Durham, in the North East of England, and have been a freelance writer for several years. My hobbies include travelling, gardening and spending time with my grandchildren. I believe that animal lovers are a special group of humans, full of empathy, big-hearted, rather prone to sentimentality and generous of spirit. No matter how few possessions or how little money you have, owning a pet makes you a rich person!