Most dogs do not need to have regular ear cleanings. Dogs that do not have a history of ear infections and do not go swimming or get wet often do not typically need maintenance ear cleaning. If your dog is prone to ear infections, it would be a good idea to clean the ears out every 2 to 4 weeks. Dogs that swim or get wet often should also get their ears cleaned regularly especially after the ears get wet.
If your dog is scratching at the ears a lot or has excessive ear debris and foul odor coming from the ears, it is possible they may have an ear infection. To read more about the signs and treatments for dog ear infections, check out this article on dog ear infections. If you think your dog may have an ear infection, it would be smart to first make an appointment with your veterinarian prior to attempting cleaning the ears at home. Dog ear infections often will not improve with just cleaning alone and will many times need prescription ear medication to treat the ear infection.
I recommend purchasing a dog-specific ear cleaner if you would like to clean your dog’s ears at home. Dog ear cleaners are not expensive and are much safer for use in the ear than common household products. I do not recommend using vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or any other household product in your pet’s ear.
The ear cleaners I most often recommend to pet owners include:
No, you should not use hydrogen peroxide to clean dog ears. There are many other inexpensive, safe, and effective dog ear cleaners available online or at your veterinary clinic. Hydrogen peroxide is not safe for use deep in the ears, and I do not recommend using it in dog’s ears.
Cleaning dog ears is a relatively simple procedure if your pet doesn’t mind its ears being touched. Follow these 4 easy steps to safely and effectively clean your dog’s ears. These images are of me cleaning my greyhound Mabel’s ears! Even though she is a bit of a princess, she graciously allowed me to demonstrate these steps for you.
Before you start the process of ear cleaning, you will need to gather your supplies. As this is a messy process, I recommend getting a dry towel to set under your dog. Gather your other supplies including veterinary-approved ear cleaner and something to dry the ear such as a cotton ball, small washcloth, or gauze.
The first step of ear cleaning is to gently fold back the ear to expose the ear canal. If your dog cries out in pain or begins to growl or snarl at you, I recommend stopping here and consulting with your veterinarian. It is possible that your dog has an ear infection if the ear is painful or if they don’t want their ears manipulated.
The second step of ear cleaning is to fill the ear canal with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner. You want to fill the ear canal until there is liquid spilling out of the ear. This will ensure there are adequate amounts of ear cleaner in your dog’s ear.
The third step of the process is to massage the base of the ear with your thumb and forefinger. This will break up any debris deep in the ear and work the cleaner around in the ear to ensure that it can do its job.
The final step is to dry the ear. First, let your dog shake their head after you massage the ear so they can remove any large amounts of ear cleaner from their ears. This is the messy part, so you may want to step back from your dog as they shake their head so you don’t get covered in ear cleaner. After they shake their head, gently dry the outside of the ear canal with a cotton ball, small washcloth, or gauze. I do not recommend using q-tips or placing other objects deep into the ear as this can damage the sensitive internal structures of the ear.
If you want to see these 4 dog ear cleaning steps in action, check out this YouTube video produced by AnimalCareTV:
In addition, your veterinarian can be another good resource if you have questions about the ear cleaning process. They will likely be able to demonstrate the process for you and recommend an ear cleaner most appropriate for your dog.
Dog ear cleaning can be done safely and effectively if you follow the steps described above. Be sure that you are using a safe dog ear cleaner to clean out the ears. If you find that the ear canal is quickly getting stinky and filling with debris shortly after cleaning the ears, it is possible that your dog may have an ear infection. I recommend consulting with your veterinarian if you notice debris, redness, or foul odor in the ear that is persistent or recurrent.
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