How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears, and Why it’s So Important

A woman holds up her dog's large ears like angel wings

Much like brushing your dog’s fur, clipping their nails, or cleaning their teeth, ear cleaning is an important part of a dog’s basic grooming regimen. Keeping your dog’s ears clean is essential in keeping infections at bay and allows you to check the ears periodically for signs of trouble.

Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to clean your dog’s ears, and with practice it can become second nature. Our team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care can get you started!

Before you Begin

Before you clean your dog’s ears, be sure to inspect them for any signs of infection or other problems. If you notice any of the following signs of infections, give us a call right away:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • A foul odor
  • Scabs
  • Discharge
  • Hair loss
  • Persistent scratching 
  • Head shaking
  • Excess wax or black debris

Gather Your Supplies

Ear cleaners that contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide should never be used on a pet’s ears, as these can cause inflammation of the sensitive tissues in and around the ears. Instead, purchase a pet ear cleaning solution (call us for recommendations).

You will also need cotton balls or squares – no cotton swabs or Q-tips!

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Some dogs will sit patiently for an ear cleaning, but many find it startling and scary, especially the first time. 

If you don’t want to be sitting on the floor, covered in ear-cleaning solution while your dog runs as fast as possible to the other end of the house, make sure you have a plan to keep them still before you start. For some dogs, this may mean enlisting the help of another adult to hold them still so you can have both hands free to work.

To properly clean your dog’s ears, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the earflap with one hand, and with the other pour a generous amount of cleaning solution directly into the ear canal.
  2. Massage the base of the ear canal until you hear a sloshing noise (indicating you have used enough solution). Allow your dog to shake their head – often they will shake out a majority of the solution and debris from inside the ear.
  3. Use your cotton ball or pad to absorb the excess solution from around the outside and inside of the ear canal. 
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until your cotton ball comes out clean.

If your dog’s ears seem excessively dirty or waxy, or you are having trouble with the cleaning process, let the experts at Animal Medical Hospital and 24 Hour Urgent Care help. The professional groomers at our Pet Spa are experts when it comes to keeping pet ears clean, healthy, and cute! Please contact us with your questions or concerns, or to schedule an appointment for your pet.