How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears At Home

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Your dog’s ears are the one place he can’t reach to scratch or lick to clean, so ear cleaning should be a regular part of your dog’s grooming routine. Read on to find out how you can help him keep his ears clean!

Chihuahua with ears perked

Chihuahua; Pixabay

Why Clean Your Dog’s Ears?

Because dogs have long ear canals, and because of the oils naturally secreted by the glands in their ears, they can become prone to ear infections if they don’t get regular cleaning. Experts recommend checking your dog’s ears at least once a week for signs of an infection, and cleaning them at least once a month.

If you notice any signs of an infection – redness, any discharge, a foul smell, frequent scratching, visible signs of pain when you touch his ear – then you shouldn’t clean his ears; instead, take him to the vet at your earliest convenience. Ear infections in your dog can be very painful and can lead to permanent hearing loss if not dealt with properly.

If you see no signs of an infection, it’s safe to clean his ears. Weekly inspections will ensure that you will catch any problems early on, and regular cleaning will help prevent ear infections.

Dogs with floppy ears are at higher risk for ear infections because the floppiness prevents adequate amount of air flow in their ear canals. Other reasons dogs may have frequent ear infections are if they swim on a regular basis or if they have allergies. These dogs will some extra attention to their ear. Weekly inspections will still suffice, but you might have to clean their ears more frequently (no more than once a week).

Preparing For The Clean

The best place to clean your dog’s ears are in the bathroom, or anywhere else you don’t mind making a mess. The best time to clean his ears are before a bath, or after a swim.

You’ll need some cotton balls, some tweezers or hemostats (without sharp edges) and an ear cleaning solution. A homemade ear cleaning solution that is safe to use is 1 part vinegar to 1 part water, or if you prefer to buy one, check links below for ones recommended by veterinarians.



Do not use q-tips on your dog’s ears, as it may push the dirt/wax further into the ear canal, and do not use alcohol or any type of oil or shampoo as cleaning solution.

Lastly, most dogs won’t enjoy the cleaning process, so it would be a good idea to have some treats handy. Explain the process to him, go slowly and make sure to tell him he’s a good boy for cooperating.

Proper Cleaning Technique

After you’ve inspected his ears, and determined that there are no signs of an infection, you can start the cleaning process. Start off by giving your dog a nice belly rub, then show him the cotton balls and ear cleaning solution so he understands what you’re about to do.

Next, with your dog in an upright (sitting) position, gently raise his ear flap and place the tip of the bottle into his ear – no further than your eye can see. Gently squeeze the bottle, 10-15 ml should be enough, then massage the base of his ears for a few seconds.

By this time your dog will probably shake his head/body. Allowing him to do so will help dislodge the dirt in his ear. Place the cotton ball on the tweezers/hemostats and wipe the outer ear canal from the inside out. Repeat as often as needed with a fresh cotton ball. Give your dogs some treats and a few soothing words, then move on to the other ear and repeat the process.

Important note: Don’t push the cotton ball in too deep – only as far as your eye can see, and never force it in if there is resistance at any point. Your goal here is to clean only the outer ear canal. Stop the process if there is any excessive redness or bleeding, or if he seems to be in any pain.

Congratulations! You now know how to safely clean your dog’s ears and help prevent any ear infections. Check out the video below for a better understanding of doggy ear canals, and how far you want to clean your dog’s ears.

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