Cleaning Your Dog's Ears Safely

Pet Health

HIF Australia

Just like with humans, your pooches can get a build up of waxes and oils in their ears. I feel like I’m forever chasing either my kids or my dogs around to give them a clean! Trust me though, it’s worth the effort, because dirty ears can make your doggy friend way more prone to infections.  

After reading this, you’ll know exactly what to use, when to use it and how to do it! 

How can I tell it’s time to clean my dog ears?  

Getting into a nice and regular schedule of checking your dog's ears is important to maintaining a good level of hygiene for them. So every month or so, go through the following motions:  

  • Dogs love getting their ears rubbed, so start with that and see if they enjoy it or it hurts them.  

  • If it makes them uncomfortable or you notice they’ve been shaking their head a lot, I suggest leaving their ears alone and getting to your local vet for a professional examination.  

  • If they aren't painful or causing any symptoms like itching and head scratching, then it’s fine to clean them yourself.  

  • Then do a visual check for dirt. Remember you can expect some dirt and wax to be present, but any excessive buildup isn’t healthy.  

  • Give the ears a sniff and see if any smells are present. A mild smell just means they’re due a wash, anything stronger or yeasty smelling and they could have an infection.  

You don’t want to over-clean dog ears, because this can cause irritation and even infection. Not all dogs are the same either - some need cleaning more than others. If your pooches are swimmers, like my Golden Retrievers  are, you really want to stay on top of their ear health.  

If you feel like there is an infection present (red skin, smelly discharge or discomfort) when you ear check, cleaning it could aggravate the condition. Bring them down to your local vet for a closer look instead.  

What do I use for doggie ear cleaning? 

This isn’t a tool-intensive task. In fact you only need a few easy-to-find supplies, including:  

  • Ear cleanser. There are a number of good pet formulated ear cleaning solutions out there. Ask your vet which one would suit your pet the best. 

  • Cotton balls. Please don't use ear buds. The pointed tip can actually push wax and dirt down into the ear and cause damage. 

  • Towels. Things can get a bit messy, so don't use your best bath towels! 

  • Doggy treats. When it comes to our furry friends, I’m a big fan of a liiiiitle bit of bribery to get the job done!  

The Ear Cleaning Process 

I joke about bribery, but ear cleaning can be an uncomfortable process for dogs. You want to make the environment as calm as possible, and definitely reward them as you go with doggy treats.  

A good idea is also to have the bottle of ear cleaning solution around the house and in the dog's space for a few days. When you play with them, have it in your hands, holding it while you pet them. They’ll get accustomed to it and feel more relaxed when it actually comes time to clean.  

You may find the first few times you’ll need an assistant in the cleaning process to hold your dog. Make sure you’re on the same level as your dog, so your presence isn’t intimidating. Get your assistant to give a smooth rub on its back or side, to distract it from what's going on.  

Lift up the ear flap and squeeze the liquid cleanser in, until it doesn’t seem anymore can go into the ear canal. Try not to touch the ear with the bottle at all to reduce the chances of cross contamination.  

Massage the base of the ear. You should hear the liquid dislodging whatever muck has built up down there… it’s a glorious squelching sound that vets know and love! Pretty soon, your dog is going to shake its head. Take cover and let it do this! Cleaning solution and dirt will spray all over, which is where your (old!) towels come in handy! 

When the shaking stops, use the cotton balls to wipe out the external part of the ear and the canal. That should do it! Give them another doggy treat for a job well done!  

If you have any questions, your local vet should be able to help you out. Remember, if your dog looks like it's in discomfort, or if there are visible sores or nasty smells coming from their ears, get them checked out by a professional.  



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