How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Learn how to clean your dog’s ears and get rid of dirt right at home


Dog ear care is paramount for the health of your best friends! Depending on the kind of ear of your dog’s breed, if you do not clean it properly they can quickly develop painful infections and further health issues. 

Essentially there are two kinds of dog ear: the ones that lay flat on the head also known as drop or floppy ears, and the pointed ones that go straight up from the base of the head, also known as upright ear. While all dogs need proper care, flat ear dogs are prone to developing problems because their ear traps in more dirt, moisture and germs. This is because the floppy part of their ear restricts airflow leading to bacterial build up.

The fur in the dog’s ear region also plays an important role, it doesn't matter so much if it’s short or long on the dog’s whole body, but the amount of hair within the ear. When they have a lot of hair growing from within the ear, they will need more care because the hair keeps dirt and grime trapped in the canal, making it the perfect, warm, dirty environment for bacteria.

Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors will need even more attention too, if your dog is frequently outdoors you should try to clean their ears regularly. Cleaning time will vary depending on the breed of dog, ear wax production, age and more, so try to get as much knowledge as you can about your specific breed.

Let’s take a look at how to clean your dog’s ears:

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1.  Examine it

The first thing you should do is to look for any kind of discharge in the ear and do a smell test. That’s right, stick your nose very close to their ear and take a deep breath. It won’t smell great, but it will make you familiar with the normal smell of their ears so you can detect any whiff of infection as soon as it starts to build up.

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Remember, when it comes to dogs it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it will happen, but more so… when. Sooner or later, they will develop some ear-related issues, it’s normal.

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2.  Materials needed to clean it

To clean their ears, get your ear-cleaning liquid, there are many brands out there that you can choose from, some cotton balls, q-tips (for the outside of the ears), using q-tips is not really needed but sometimes useful. 

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As a warning, never stick a q-tip inside their ear, remember that dog ear canals are very different than human ear canals, it is not straight but shaped like the letter ‘L’

And, of course you definitely will need some treats for rewards. 

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3.  How to clean it

To get started, pull the ear flap upright and carefully fill the ear canal with cleaning liquid and then gently massage it for at least 30 seconds.

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If you do it right, you will hear a squishy noise. 

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After gently massaging it, use a cotton ball to wipe out any excess liquid and dirt from the ears and follow the same procedure on the other side.

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Now it’s always good to remember, not every dog is easy to handle. Put yourself in the place of your dog and imagine someone pouring liquid in your ear. No fun! Wouldn’t you rather be playing instead of going through that? That’s why you need to be very gentle, loving and have plenty of treats to appease them.

It’s normal to need a pair of extra hands to help you secure the dog while you do the cleaning.

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Once you're done, give them some loving and that’s it - clean ears, happy doggo!

In case of infection, or if your dog is feeling pain during cleaning, be prompt and make an appointment with your vet. Other signs you should pay attention to are excessive scratching of the ear, ear swelling, high odors, intense head shaking and discharge from the ear. These are all signs of a possible ear infection. Just remember a healthy dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog sure does help to create a happy home.

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