Cleaning Dogs’ Ears

Cleaning Dogs’ Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears is an important step in their grooming and personal hygiene. Not only do your dog’s ears need to be cleaned in order to keep them clean and allow the dog to hear properly, this is also a very sensitive part of the body and without regular maintenance, infection could set in. Some pet owners are worried about cleaning dogs’ ears because they foresee a scenario in which they have to hold their squirming dog down while trying to gently but effectively get to the dirt and debris on their ear.

While it’s true that dogs probably won’t love you poking around their ear canal, there are things you can do to make it easier on both of you.

How to Properly Clean Your Dog’s Ears


Properly Clean Your Dog’s Ears

  1. The first thing you need to do when cleaning your dog’s ears is to get everything ready.
  2. You’ll need a good ear rinse, which you can ask your vet for or an expert at a pet supply store. You need to make sure that any rinse you use is free of alcohol, antibiotics, steroids, or other toxic materials that could hurt your pet. If you wish, you can also use a simple half-and-half solution of lukewarm water and vinegar. This is a very gentle mixture that will help remove the dirt around the ear without doing any damage. Of course, you also need to make sure the water is at a comfortable temperature so it doesn’t shock the dog and send them into further distress.
  3. Next, get your pup and make sure they are comfortable. Know that most dogs are not eager to get their ears cleaned, so you’ll need to be very reassuring and try to make them as calm and comfortable as possible. Offering treats is a good way to do this, and keep that treat bag handy so you can offer small rewards throughout the process when your dog cooperates.
  4. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture you’ve prepared or purchased and wring it out so it’s not excessively wet. While excessive moisture won’t hurt the dog’s ears, it also won’t be very comfortable as it’s dripping inside and that can make your dog upset and even more unresponsive to the process. Make sure the cotton ball is just damp, not soaking wet and halve the cotton ball if you’re going to be working on ears that are very tiny.
  5. Then, start cleaning the ears. Do this by first removing all the dirt you see on the outer ear, being sure to use a very gentle touch as you wipe. Then, go inside the ear and wipe just where you can easily see. This is probably when the dog will become most upset because this is where their ears are the most sensitive. Be very reassuring, give lots of praise for cooperative behavior, and perhaps a treat or two as well.
  6. Once the outer ear is finished being cleaned, use a new cotton ball dipped in the rinse to start on the inner ear. Be sure, especially when working on the inner ear that you don’t go too far in but wipe only where you can see. This will lessen the chances that your dog is going to become very upset and will also make sure you’re keeping their inner ear and ear canal safe.

Things to Remember When Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Here are a few tips to remember when cleaning your dog’s ears to make the process a safe and happy one for you and your pooch:

  • Associate the cleaning with something positive. Treats can help with this but so can going for a long walk or an extra-long playtime session afterwards. If the dog knows that something fun is coming after getting their ears cleaned, it will make it easier for you each time you need to clean your dog’s ears.
  • Never use cotton swabs on a dog’s ears. Just like in humans, you can actually push wax and dirt further down into the canal, which can lead to very big problems in the future. You could also do damage simply by poking that swab around, so make sure to use cotton balls or a finger wrapped in gauze (this is especially good for the smallest of ears).
  • Have everything ready before you start. Think it was tough to get your dog to sit and settle down the first time you started this adventure? Just wait until they fully understand what’s going on and realize just how much they don’t want to do it again. If you need to get up to get cotton balls, rinse, or anything else you need, the chances are that your dog will get up as well, and won’t be as easy to calm down again to continue with the cleaning. Make sure you have everything you need within reach so you can do it only once and make it an even better experience for you and your dog.
  • To use gloves or not to use gloves? This is really a personal preference. If your hands are clean they’re not going to hurt your dog’s ears so you can feel free to use your bare hands and simply give them a good wash afterwards. However if you feel better using gloves for the process, then use gloves.
  • Only clean until you feel resistance. Once you do it’s an indication that you’re starting to meet with cartilage, bone, and other important parts of the ear canal. Stop so you don’t do any damage – you don’t need to clean any more than this.

Tips for Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

One of the most important things to remember when cleaning dogs’ ears is to look closely at the cotton balls once you’re finished using them. Are they especially dirty? If so, you might want to take your dog into the vet as it could be sign of a bigger problem such as infection. Then just keep following these tips the next time you have to clean your dog’s ears, so it can be something both of you look forward to.



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Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott has been a freelance content writer for the past 8 years, and has written creatively her entire life. In addition to her online work, she has written a fiction novel, as well as had poetry published in the “Songs of the Heart” collection. A lover of animals since she was young, she’s also always had a dog by her side. Currently her best friend is a 13-year-old German Shepherd named Chewy.

Kate Elliott

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