6 min read

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.)

The Dodo 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 all on your own — and when to see a vet.

How to clean your dog’s ears

The first step in cleaning your dog’s ears is to make sure she actually needs them cleaned, so you don’t end up irritating her sensitive ears.

Your pup’s ears are healthy — and don’t need cleaning — if they’re:

  • Pink
  • Odorless
  • Not inflamed
  • Not dirty

If these things change, that’s when you know her ears need to be cleaned.

What you need

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 it from Amazon for $18.69

Don’t forget to grab some treats for a little loving bribery, and cotton balls in case you’re out!

What to do

According to Dr. DeMarco, there are really only two steps to cleaning your dogs ears: Apply and wipe.

“Put a small amount of ear cleaner on the cotton ball and wipe the ear using an outward motion,” Dr. DeMarco said.

If you want to keep yourself — or your floor — dry, you could also grab a towel for when your pup inevitably shakes her head after.

(And you might want to do this in the bathroom instead of the living room, in case things get messy.)

What not to do

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. That’s because it could 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 perfectly healthy skin.

When your vet should clean your dog’s ears instead

If you feel like simply wiping your dog’s ears clean 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 pup’s ears are only mildly stinky, 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.

Call your vet if your dog:

  • Is shaking her head
  • Has ear redness and inflammation
  • Has yeasty-smelling ears
  • Is acting like she’s in pain

Those signs could mean your pup has an ear infection or mites, both of which require veterinary attention.

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