If you are a pet owner, you understand the importance of keeping your dogs’ ears clean. However, this can be challenging, especially for dogs who were not conditioned to accept it or owners who do not feel comfortable doing the task. Of course, some dogs just have naturally clean ears, but this isn’t the case for every breed. In fact, dog breeds that feature low-hanging ears such as Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds generally require the most work. Yet, regardless of what type of dog you have, maintaining clean ears is vital, so the following information will discuss everything you need to know about how to clean your dogs’ ears.
When Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears?
While there’s no set time to clean a dogs’ ears, it’s best to check your dog at regular intervals. So, before you break out all of the cleaning supplies, check to see if your dog needs his ears cleaned. One important thing to keep in mind is that if you over-clean a dogs’ ears, it can lead to irritation and infection.
Hence, you must know what a healthy ear should look like inside, which is clean, not inflamed or dirty, light pink, and odorless. You should only proceed with an ear cleaning if you recognize a yeasty or lousy smell or visibly see dirt.
If you notice any symptoms such as head shaking more than expected and an ear that’s red, inflamed, shows signs of pain or has a yeast-like smell, it’s best to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. When such symptoms are present, it can signify fleas, ear mites, allergies, or ear infections; either way – your dog needs to see the vet because cleaning an infected ear will make the situation worse rather than better.
Ear Infections In Dogs
How To Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs
While preventing ear infections in dogs is not always possible, there are some things you can do to help reduce your dog’s risk of developing one. Here are some tips to prevent ear infection in your dog:
- Anytime your dog is around water, be sure to place dry cotton balls inside his ear to prevent moisture from getting in. Doggie hoods or snoods work well as bathing caps for dogs and will prevent water from reaching places it shouldn’t.
- Use clean cotton balls to dry your dog’s ears after each swim session or bath.
- Do not attempt to clean your dog’s ear if you suspect there is an infection present. A dog’s ears should only be cleaned when they are healthy and on a schedule advised by your veterinarian.
- Be gentle and remove any visible debris from the outer ear canal.
- Keep the hair around the inside and outside of your puppy’s ear trimmed and clean.
- Regularly smell your dog’s ears to see if you can find any hint of a funky smell.
What Causes Ear Infections In Dogs?
While it’s essential to understand the signs of ear infections and ways to prevent them, it’s also crucial to know what causes ear infections in dogs. Here is a list of things that can cause your dog to get an ear infection:
- Bacteria has entered the ear from your pet’s paw or other sources.
- A build-up of yeast or fungus
- Ear mites
- Foreign objects become lodged in the ear.
- Polyps or tumors.
How to clean dog ears
Now that you are a bit more clear about what causes ear infections in dogs, signs to watch for, and why cleaning your pup’s ears is essential, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to clean a dog’s ears.
Ear Cleaning Supplies
To successfully clean your dog’s ears, you will need to have a few items on hand. The products you’ll need include gauze or cotton balls, a towel, and a dog ear cleaning solution (more on these below). Just remember to avoid using Q-tips or any other type of pointed instrument, as such tools can shove debris and dirt further into the ear canal and either cause trauma or an ear infection.
It’s also worth noting that it can get messy. So, this task is best done in a bathroom or room that’s easy to clean in the event that your dog vigorously shakes her head.
Ear Cleaning Solutions For Dogs
Naturally, the internet is home to many DIY solutions. However, the safest and best choices are always those recommended by your dog’s veterinarian. When dealing with homemade dog ear cleaning solutions, you’ll find that many don’t work, and others contain harsh ingredients that can cause irritation.
Your best option is to contact your vet’s office before taking on this task, as most offices carry dog-specific ear cleaning solutions that are gentle and harmless for your pooch.
Here is a three-step guide that will help you successfully clean your dog’s ears:
- First, check your dog’s ears to see if they need to be cleaned at the time. If so, go ahead and collect your dog and all necessary cleaning supplies. This process works best when your dog is calm, and don’t be afraid to seal the deal with dog treats.
- Squeeze enough of the veterinarian-approved cleaning solution into the ear so that the canal is filled up. Once the cleaner is inside the ear, go ahead and massage the base of the ear canal for about 30 seconds. During this time, you will hear a whooshing sound; this is normal, but be sure not to touch the inside of your dog’s ear with the applicator, as this can lead to bacteria being introduced.
- Allow your dog to shake his head as much as possible. This is where a towel is a good thing to have, as it helps cover you from overspray, and you can use it to wipe down when your dog is finished. After the head shaking has stopped, use a piece of gauze or a cotton ball to gently wipe inside and outside of your dog’s ear – just be sure not to go deeper than one knuckle. If your dog displays signs of pain, stop the cleaning and call your vet.
The Bottom Line
In the end, cleaning your dog’s ears regularly is an easy way to prevent ear infections and keep your dog’s hearing strong. Always consult with your veterinarian before using products in your dog’s ear, and remember to be gentle throughout the process!
Original infographic via propooch.com in 2016, content updated in March 2022.