How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

Ear cleaning is an essential aspect of dog grooming that you should not neglect. Without proper and regular cleaning, wax and oils build up inside the ear, increasing risk of ear infection and hearing damage. Guess what? You don’t have to take your dog on a regular visit to a professional groomer to clean the ears, you can do it yourself. Yes! I mean you can clean a dog’s ears yourself at home. Cleaning your dog’s ears at home is easy to do with the right supplies and techniques.

How to Clean a Dog's Ears

There are three important things that you need to know about dogs’ ears before you start cleaning it, they are as follows;

  • Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections than other dogs because floppy ears don’t get a lot of airflows, unlike the stand upright ears.
  • Dogs don’t want their ears cleaned, so you’re going to have to work with them. A treat or more can do the magic.
  • If you don’t do it the right way, you can cause serious damage. To clean your dog’s ears without causing harm, you want to start on the outside and work your way in.

Knowing how to clean a dog’s ears is a fundamental part of grooming your pet. Making sure this is done on a regular basis will help protect his hearing and ensure that your pup’s ears stay healthy throughout his life.

Tools You Need to Clean Your Dog’s Ear at Home.

To get started, you will need cotton balls;

Just like with human ears, you never want to use cotton swabs because they can hurt your dog’s ears instead use a vet-approved ear cleaner. In the absence of cotton balls, you can wrap your finger in gauze and use it.  You can buy ear cleaners from your vet, at pet-supply stores or online. Just be sure you get your vet’s all-clear before using any product to ensure it’s gentle and safe for your pet.

When buying cleaning products look for a product that does not contain any antibiotics, steroids, alcohol, or toxic materials of any kind. Avoid cleansers that contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which can irritate your dog’s sensitive ears. If you’re not sure whether something is okay to use on your dog, simply ask your vet or dog groomer.

You might want to use gloves for the cleaning, but it’s also okay to just wash your hands if no gloves are available.

Other tools you might need includes;

  • Tweezers: These are good to have on hand if your dog has a lot of hair in his ears.
  • A towel: This is recommended for containing potential messes, especially if your dog is prone to shaking his head when something gets in his ears.

Also Read: How to Get Rid of Pet Odor from Your House

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears
at Home

  • Getting your dog to sit, reward him with a treat and allow him to inspect the bottle of ear cleaner.
  • To clean the ears, start by holding the ear flap up if the ears are not already erect and squirting a few drops of ear cleaner on the inside of the flap near the ear opening.
  • Next, gently place the tip of the bottle into the ear and squeeze a little bit of ear cleaner into the ear and let it drip down into the ear canal.
  • Gently massage the base of the ear with your finger, before the dog can shake its head, this is to suds up the cleaner and help it break down wax and debris. After massaging for like twenty seconds, let go and allow your dog to shake its head. You can hold a towel over his head to prevent the solution from flapping everywhere.
  • Gently wipe the visible outer ear flap and inside the ear with a cotton ball/pad or gauze square. Wipe as far down you as can, using the cotton ball or gauze and your finger.
  • Keep wiping until your cotton balls come back clean. Pet ear cleaners contain drying agents, so any small amount of cleaner left inside the ear will dry on its own. Use a cotton swab only if necessary and only on the visible portion of your dog’s ear.
  • If your dog has an ear infection and needs medication, apply it after the ears are clean and wiped out. Keep the tip of the ointment well above the ear so that you can see how many drops are going into the dog’s ear and then just massage the ear below.
  • Reward your pup with another treat and then repeat these steps for the other ear.

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears with Vinegar and Water

Do you also know that you can clean your dog’s ears with Vinegar and water? Let me show you how to do just that. But first of all, be sure to take a look at your dog’s ears first to see if they are red and inflamed. If so, dilute the recipe by using less vinegar.

Steps to Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears with Vinegar and Water.

  1. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bowl.
  2.  Layout all your ear-cleaning necessities so they are within reach. Most dogs dislike ear cleaning; having everything ready and in reach will help you get the job done quickly, without having to leave your dog during the ear-cleaning process.
  3.  Restrain your dog if he doesn’t like getting his ears cleaned by placing one arm over his shoulder and draping your other arm around his neck especially if it a large dog so you can expose the inner ear surface with your fingers. Restrain a small dog by placing a towel over him and leaving just his head exposed. If possible, have someone standing by to help restrain your dog.
  4.  Fill a dropper with the ear-cleaning mixture, and gently squeeze it into your dog’s ear canal. Veterinarian Joan Howl recommends filling the ear with the mixture to the point where it drips out.
  5.  Plug your dog’s ear with a large cotton ball. Most dogs will shake their heads the moment a liquid enters their ears.
  6. Massage the base of your dog’s ear especially the base of the canals all the way down to the head, to spread the solution. Dogs generally like this part of the ear-cleaning process, so you should be able to give a thorough rub.
  7.  Remove the cotton ball, and allow your dog to shake his head. This helps to loosen any debris inside the ear and brings it to the surface. At this point, if your dog allows it, you can choose to repeat the internal cleaning process for an extra-thorough cleaning.
  8. Clean the inner and outer surfaces of the ear flap. Moisten a cotton ball or gauze pad with the ear-cleaning liquid and wipe it over the visible surfaces of the ear. Wipe from the bottom of the ear flap toward the outer edge of the ear.
  9. If your dog does not make a mess, even with an ear infection, you might need to repeat this. Make sure to give the ear canals a deep massage. Give your dog a treat for good behavior and allow the ear to dry naturally.

Also Read: How to Clean Dog Pee From Carpet: 5 Amazing Methods

Others Simple Ways of Cleaning a Dog’s Ears

Here are more simple DIY ways of cleaning your dog’s ears

Vinegar, Alcohol and Boric Acid Solution

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid and 2 ounces of white vinegar. Add a few drops of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of povidone-iodine. Povidone-iodine is optional, you can choose to omit it. Shake to mix thoroughly. Because of the presence of alcohol, this preparation is good for after swimming. Saturate a cotton ball, pad or washcloth with the preparation and wipe the inside of your dog’s ear with it. Wipe again with a clean, damp washcloth.

Apple Cider Vinegar Solution

If you are not so sure of using alcohol on your pup, you can only use a solution of Apple Cider Vinegar and Water. Though alcohol is not too harsh or drying for your dogs’ ears. To make a vinegar and water solution, mix 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar to 2/3 cup of lukewarm water. Wipe the visible part of the inside of your dog’s ear with the solution, using a cotton ball or soft cloth.

Using Olive Oil to Clean your Dog’s Ears

If you are only seeking to remove excess wax, and your dog’s ears are not too dirty, you can use a few drops of almond, mineral or olive oil to loosen the wax. Place a few drops on the visible part of the ear, give it time to loosen the wax, and allow your dog to shake his head to spread the oil. Clean the wax and oil out with a soft, clean cloth or cotton balls.

Additional Tips on How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

  • Make sure everything you need to clean your dog’s ears are within your reach. The last thing you want when trying to clean your dog’s ears is to discover halfway through the process that you forgot something and have to get up to find it, you might end up starting the whole process all over again.
  • Cover your clothes before you begin. Cleaning a dog’s ears can get messy.
  • To clean your dog’s ears without causing harm, you want to start on the outside and work your way in – but only until you start to feel resistance. If you try to push further in, you can damage your dog’s ear, so err on the side of caution.
  • Wet a cotton ball with ear rinse and wipe the part of the ear that you can easily see, the outer flap. Then wet a new cotton ball to clean the inner ear. Ideally, you want to do this about once a week.
  • If the cotton balls or gauze are especially dirty, you may want to think about scheduling an appointment with your dog’s vet to make sure everything is okay. And don’t forget to give your dog a treat when you’re done.
  • Unless you want water everywhere, make sure your dog is in a confined area. The best place to clean your dog’s ears is in the tub or outside. Place your dog in a tub or bring him outside. Make sure you’re wearing old clothing that won’t get ruined if cleaning solution gets on it.
  • Don’t skimp on the cleaning solution. There’s a lot more to your dog’s ear canal than what you can see. Filling the entire canal with the solution will help ensure the entire ear gets cleaned. Any excess cleaner that doesn’t get wiped out will be expelled by your dog shaking his head.
  • Some dogs, especially those with short ears and not a lot of hair, may only need to have their ears wiped out occasionally when they begin to look dirty. Dogs with floppy ears and those with a lot of hair around the ears should have a more thorough inspection and cleaning at least every other week.
  • You may wish to use cotton-tipped applicators to clean stubborn debris out of the ridges of your dog’s ear.
  • Examine your dog’s ears regularly. If you detect discharge, redness, odor, ear scratching or frequent shaking of the head, your dog as an ear problem. Consult your veterinarian.
  • Clean your dog’s ears at least weekly, as well as after his ears come in contact with water during bathing or swimming.
  • Never push cotton swabs deeper inside your dog’s ear canal than you can see. Such objects can push debris and wax deeper into the ear and can damage the eardrum.

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