How To Clean Your Dog's Ears

And how to tell if they need cleaning ❤️

how to clean dog ears

Intimidated by the idea of cleaning your dog’s ears? Not sure where to begin?

Well, it’s actually way simpler than you’d expect! (The hardest part is getting your dog to sit still long enough.)

We spoke with Dr. Antonio DeMarco, a veterinarian and president of medical operations at GoodVets in Kansas City, Missouri, to find out everything you need to know about cleaning your dog’s ears at home — and when to see a vet.

What to use to clean dog ears

According to Dr. DeMarco, you don’t need much to clean your dog’s ears.

“[You need] cotton balls and an ear cleaner specifically labeled for use in dogs,” Dr. DeMarco told The Dodo. “Generally, asking your veterinarian for cleaning recommendations is important.”

When it comes to dog ear cleaner, Dr. DeMarco recommends Epi-Otic to his patients. “[It’s] a good, gentle cleaner with great antifungal and antibacterial properties,” Dr. DeMarco said.

Try this Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner from Amazon for $21.49

And don’t forget to grab some treats for a little loving bribery.

How to clean your dog’s ears

Here are the steps to follow to clean your pup’s ears:

  • Make sure your pup’s sitting in a comfortable position.
  • Put the ear cleanser solution into your dog’s ear.
  • Massage the base of your dog’s ear with the cleanser inside. This helps the cleanser get deeper inside her ear and break up anything that’s in there, like wax or debris.
  • Let your dog shake her head.
  • Wipe out any leftover cleanser from your dog’s ear with a cotton ball (or tissue).
  • Repeat with the other ear.

If your dog has long fur, you may need to carefully trim any fur around the outside of her ear before starting so you can see the ear opening, too.

How not to clean a dog’s ears

There are some things you definitely shouldn’t do when cleaning your dog’s ears.

For starters, cleaning with a Q-tip is a big no-go. “We never want to insert Q-tips down a dog’s ear canal,” Dr. DeMarco said. Q-tips can cause infection and mess with your pup’s ear structure.

You also want to avoid using hydrogen peroxide on your dog, since that can irritate her skin.

How often to clean a dog’s ears

In general, most dogs can have their ears cleaned around once a month.

Some dogs who have long ears, such as basset hounds, or dogs who spend a lot of time in the water, may need their ears cleaned more often. This is because dogs with floppy ears and dogs who swim frequently get more moisture trapped in their ears (which is also why it’s important to dry your dog’s ears well when you give her a bath).

You should check your dog’s ears regularly to make sure they’re clean. If your dog’s ears are dirty or smell, it’s definitely time to clean them. But if you notice signs of an ear infection, you should take your pup to the vet.

Signs of an ear infection in dogs include:

  • Head shaking
  • Ear redness and inflammation
  • Yeasty-smelling ears
  • Ear scratching
  • Ear pain
  • Ear discharge

These symptoms could mean your pup has an ear infection, fleas, mites or allergies, which require veterinary attention.

When the vet should clean your dog’s ears

If you feel like simply wiping your dog’s ears isn’t cutting it, that’s when you should hit up your vet. “Leave any invasive cleaning to your veterinarian,” Dr. DeMarco said.

If your dog’s ears seem healthy but just a little dirty, you’re probably good to clean them on your own. But if you’re noticing a stronger smell or more dramatic abnormalities, you should talk to a professional.

So clean your dog’s ears regularly to make sure they stay healthy (and so she can hear you calling for dinner).

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