How to Clean a Dog’s Ears: A Step-by-Step Approach

Healthy ears are pink and odorless. Ear cleanings are essential in order to care for your pupper adequately. This helps maintain their ear health and helps to prolong their hearing.

Why Regular Ear Cleanings are Important

Keeping your dog’s ears clean is crucial to their overall health and wellbeing. It helps prevent infections, ear mites, and unpleasant odors. Regular ear cleaning is an essential part of your dog’s grooming routine.

Dogs’ ears produce wax, which can build up over time and cause infections. Cleaning your dog’s ears can remove excess wax and prevent bacterial growth. If your dog’s ears are dirty or inflamed, it can lead to pus and a bad smell.

Ear mites are another common problem that can affect dogs’ ears. These tiny parasites can cause itching, inflammation, and infection. Regular ear cleaning can prevent ear mites from taking hold and causing discomfort for your furry friend.

If your dog has allergies, keeping their ears clean can help reduce the risk of allergic reactions. Allergens can build up in your dog’s ears, leading to inflammation and discomfort. Regular ear cleaning can help keep your dog’s ears healthy and free from allergens.

The structure of a dog’s ear can make it difficult for trapped debris to be removed without help from us to thoroughly clean them. This debris can lead to irritation and infection if not removed.

Clean them once a month. If you over-clean it can cause infections. And clean after each bath and swimming. Doggos with short ears may only need occasional cleanings. But doggos with big floppy ears or ones with very hairy ears will need thorough weekly inspections and regular cleaning.

Dogs that have floppy ears, swim regularly, or have allergies are more prone to developing ear infections. Consult with your vet if you feel like they will need more than one cleaning a month. There could be an underlying issue you’re not aware of.

Understanding Dog Ear Anatomy

To properly clean your dog’s ears, you need to understand their anatomy. The ear flap, also known as the pinna, is the visible part of the ear. It’s made up of cartilage covered by skin and fur. Remember, this outer visible part that we can see will be the area that will be cleaned. The ear canal is the tube that runs from the ear flap to the eardrum. It’s lined with skin and small hairs that help trap dirt and debris. The eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, separates the ear canal from the middle ear. It’s a thin membrane that vibrates when sound waves hit it. It is important to never insert anything into the ear canal, as this can damage the eardrum and cause pain.

Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of Ear Issues

To keep your dog’s ears healthy, it’s important to recognize signs of ear issues. You’ll want to start by observing the ear and your dog. Watch out for head shaking and/or ear rubbing. This could be a sign of discomfort and possibly infection. This is usually a tell-tell sign of them trying to soothe the irritation. If you notice any discharge or debris, you’ll want to check the color. Regular earwax, which is light yellowish with no foul smell present. If it’s green, it might be a yeast or bacterial infection. If brown or red, it might be an ear mite infection. Or if simply regular earwax, watch as it’s not an overproduction. A musty odor could also indicate the smell of infection. Be on the lookout for scratching, redness, and swelling.This could be a sign of mites or an infection. And if they have damage to the ear canal, this can also cause issues. If you notice any swelling or pain, it could be due to damage. Inner ear infections can cause your dog to tilt their head or lose their balance.

Regularly checking your dog’s ears can help prevent issues. If you notice any of these signs of ear issues, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

What You’ll Need

To clean your dog’s ears properly, you will need a few supplies:

  • ear cleaning solution
  • cotton ball or cotton pads
  • tweezers
  • towels
  • treats as a reward
  • old clothing for you to wear

Preparing to Clean

Complete in a calm, quiet environment so your pupper is nice and relaxed. You can look to completing in a tub or confined space. Slowly pet them and work your way up towards their ears, continuing to touch and pet them. Your can give them treats and praise. This will help become comfortable with their ears being touched. Can use a a distraction, such as a dollop of peanut butter or one of their favorite toys. Have them inspect the solution so they are comfortable with the bottle. Ear cleaning isn’t the most fun for your doggo. Go slow, be gentle, make sure to give lots of praise and rewards throughout the process.

When preparing to clean, remember to gather all of your supplies first before attempting to clean. You do not want to start cleaning and then remember you forgot something. Not only will this delay the process, but it could make your pupper become anxious or antsy having to stop and wait. And don’t forget to change into old, worn clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty or soiled.

Remember to never use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. This can cause irritation and damage to their ears. Also, Q-tips should never be used in the ear. They can push the wax and debris further into the ear canal, cause infections, and lead to permanent damage to the eardrum and cause hearing loss.

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

  1. You will want to keep the first cleanings short until they become acclimated to the process. It is okay to take several sessions before even being able to complete a full cleaning.
  2. Have them sit and become comfortable. Give then a treat. Let them inspect the ear solution to give them a greater level of comfort.
  3. Sitting on the floor, with them sitting between your legs. Or if a larger breed, you can have them sit against a corner, with you facing one side of their body. Grab a hold of the ear and lift the ear flap up and squeeze the high-quality ear cleaning solution into the ear canal so that it fills the canal entirely. If tip of applicator touches your dog, make sure to wipe off with alcohol in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  4. Massage the base of the ear for 20-30 seconds, while still holding the ear flap up with the other hand. This breaks up the wax and debris in the ear canal.
  5. Should be able to hear a squishing sound. This is the fluid moving around as it breaks up the build-up. Never touch the tip of the applicator to the actual ears, as this can introduce bacteria.
  6. Wipe away the debris with a cotton ball. Then have your dog shake, which will allow the remaining debris and solution to be expelled from the ear canal to the outermost part of the ear. Remember to cover yourself with a towel and wipe their face down when they’re done shaking.
  7. Hold the ear flap up again and remove all the debris with a cotton ball or pad. Make sure to thoroughly dry the ears and face when finishing. Wipe out the outer ear, just at the front of the ear and no more than a couple of inches.
  8. Give treat and praise.
  9. Can repeat the cleaning process until all wax and debris has been flushed out of the ear.
  10. Repeat on other ear.
  11. After they have become comfortable with the entire process, then you can start at looking to tweeze any unnecessary and long hairs in the ear. This will help to clear out the ear canal and give you easier access to work.
  12. If your pooch appears to be in pain at any time during the process, stop and call your veterinarian.

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, don’t delay in seeking treatment. With proper care and treatment, most ear infections can be effectively treated and prevented in the future. And if your doggo has an ear infection, be sure to clean the ears first before applying the medications.

To prevent future ear infections, it’s important to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. Regularly clean your dog’s ears with a vet-recommended ear cleaner and avoid getting water in your dog’s ears during baths or swimming. If you follow these steps and keep a watchful eye for signs and symptoms of ear health, you can better protect your doggie and keep them happy and healthy.

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