Cleaning dog ears can seem like a daunting task. However, your dog's ears need regular cleaning, and the frequency will depend on your dog's breed. You may wonder, Can I clean their ears at home? Yes, you can, but you must ensure you're doing it correctly. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide for pet owners on correctly cleaning dog ears.

Cleaning dog ears: Why it's important

Ear care is an integral part of pet wellness plans and dog grooming. As pet parents, we must ensure no nasty buildup in our pup's ears. Otherwise, they'll be in discomfort. While many dogs shake their head to clear their ears — after a swim, for example — you can't solely rely on this. Why is that?

The structure of a dog's ear canal is similar to ours. While small bits of dirt may come loose with a good head shake, other objects or particles can get trapped deep within their ear canal. Not addressing this blockage leads to itching, pain, and ear infections. The deeper the object is, the more discomfort it'll cause your dog.

However, when it comes to cleaning dog ears, over-cleaning isn't recommended. Cleaning them too much could do more harm than good. Consider their breed when assessing how much you should add ear cleaning to your pooch's grooming routine. Some dogs are genetically predisposed to having clean and healthy ears, but dog breeds with low-hanging ears, such as Basset Hounds, will need regular attention.

If you're unsure how often you should clean a dog's ears, ask your veterinarian at your next checkup. They can help guide you based on your dog's breed and health.

How to clean your dog's ears at home

Cleaning dog ears is easier than it sounds, as long as you're prepared. You'll need a few essential supplies, including towels, cotton balls, and a veterinarian-approved dog ear-cleaning solution. If your four-legged friend doesn't like you touching their ears, having an extra pair of hands around can be beneficial.

Once you have the necessary items, you can use these five quick and easy steps to clean your dog's ears.

  1. Groom their ears. If your dog has particularly hairy ears, they may need a trim before you focus your attention on their ear canal. Remove matted hair and wipe down any fur around the ear flap and canal. In some cases, hair can grow in their ear canal. Pluck these hairs (if your pooch is willing) as they'll be more comfortable.
  2. Position your dog. Depending on your dog's size, you may need to position them differently. When cleaning dog ears, you need to easily see inside the ear canal while ensuring your dog can't bolt from your arms. For small to medium-sized dogs, position them rear first between your legs while sitting on the floor. For larger dogs, get them to sit in a corner with their side against a wall.
  3. Pour the cleaning solution into their ear canal. While holding your dog's ear flap, fill its ear canal with the cleaning solution. In cases where your pup isn't fond of you doing this, place a cotton ball soaked in the solution in their ear. Do this gently and avoid pushing the cotton ball too deep into the canal.
  4. Massage their ear canal. For the solution to work, you need to massage your dog's ear canal. Place your hand at the base of their ear opening and make circular motions for approximately thirty seconds. This ensures the solution will break down any debris.
  5. Give room for a good head shake. Repeat steps one to four on the other ear, and then allow your fur baby to have a good headshake. This will remove any remaining solution and loose debris. Using a cotton ball or towel, hold up their ear flap and remove any visible debris from the upper part of the ear canal.

An optional step we like to include is to give your dog plenty of praise (and maybe a couple of snacks) to recognize a job well done. If your dog seems to be in pain at any time during the cleaning process, stop immediately and consult your veterinarian.

Signs your dog has an ear infection

Thankfully, there are clear telltale ear infection signs you can look for when cleaning dog ears. One sign is if your dog's behavior changes during an ear cleaning. If your pup usually has a gentle temperament but becomes aggressive when you touch their ear, it's a good indication they have an infection. The other signs you need to be aware of are:

  • discharge;
  • foul odor;
  • ear scratching;
  • excessive debris.

If your dog's ear doesn't look pink and has a yeasty smell, then it's not a healthy ear. Bring your dog to your local veterinarian for a routine checkup.

Wagmo pet wellness plans for dog grooming

With Wagmo, pet parents are guaranteed that we will take care of their pup's well-being from the top of their ears to the tip of their tail. As part of our pet wellness coverage, your fur baby will be eligible for regular ear care checks and grooming services. Along with this, we make regular pet care affordable by covering the cost of various tests, including routine blood work and fecal tests.
Learn more about our Wagmo dog wellness plans. Are you interested in finding a plan that suits your dog's needs? Take our pet wellness quiz today.