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How to Properly Clean Your Dog’s Ears

While ear cleaning is necessary for many dogs under different circumstances, it can be a daunting thing to do for the first time. Luckily, by understanding canine ear anatomy and learning a few simple techniques, you can become proficient at this task and help keep your dog’s ears healthy.

Reasons a Dog’s Ears Might Need Cleaning

There are several times when a dog’s ears might need cleaning. Here are some of them:

  • An ear infection is present.
  • Water has gotten into the dog’s ears.
  • The dog is prone to ear infections, and routine ear cleaning helps stave them off.
  • The dog has ear mites.

Routine ear cleaning is also a good idea even if the dog never has ear problems. Getting out any dirt or debris that might be present in the ears can help your dog feel better, smell better, and leave her less likely to develop an ear-related problem.

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How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

To properly clean your dog’s ears, you will first need an appropriate ear cleaner. If your dog has an ear infection or is prone to recurrent infections, your veterinarian is likely to prescribe an ear cleaner specifically designed to help. Otherwise, use a non-medicated, general ear cleaner labeled for dogs.

NOTE: If your dog is experiencing an ear problem, has a bad smell from her ear, or has lots of ear debris, have her checked by a veterinarian. The use of some ear cleaners is contraindicated if the eardrum is ruptured, so a vet should take a look at it first.

You will also need some gauze squares or cotton balls, and it’s much easier when you have a helper. Choose an area that is easy to clean up because your dog will shake her head after you clean her ears, and earwax, debris, and ear cleaner may come flying out. This task is an ideal one for doing outside.

Once you have all of your supplies gathered and your helper is with you, follow these steps:

  • Have your dog sit down.
  • If your dog has floppy ears, lift the flap with your non-dominant hand and hold it straight up.
  • Use your dominant hand to put the tip of the open bottle of ear cleaner into the opening of your dog’s ear. NOTE: a dog’s ear canal goes in a short distance, then makes a sharp turn and goes further, to the eardrum. You won’t be able to hit the eardrum with the cleaner bottle’s tip.
  • Squeeze in some ear cleaner.
  • Put the bottle down, and use your dominant hand to rub gently at the base of your dog’s ear. You have put in enough cleaner if you can hear the liquid moving around. NOTE: this step is critical because it helps the cleaner make its way around the bend in the ear canal and loosens up any debris near the eardrum so it can float out.
  • After about 60 seconds, you can let go of your dog’s ear and allow her to shake. Be sure you and your helper protect your faces from flying debris and ear cleaner.
  • Once she’s had a good shake, use your gauze or cotton balls to gently wipe out the debris that is in the opening of your dog’s ear. Don’t use a Q-tip, which may push debris down into your dog’s eardrum.
  • Move around to the other side of your dog or have her turn around, and repeat the procedure on the other ear.

That’s all there is to it; you’ve successfully cleaned your dog’s ears. If your dog has been prescribed medication for an ear infection, use the same procedure to apply it after you have cleaned them. You will not need to wipe the ear out with cotton after the medication.