7 Tips on How to Clean Dog Ears

french bulldog puppy

Dogs are great pets. They’re loyal, dependable, and offer unconditional love. But one thing that often gets overlooked is their ears. Ear problems are far more common than we think. In fact, one study found that 7.3% of dogs who underwent vet care in 2016 did so because of ear infections that caused inflammation.
Why are so many dogs dealing with issues like this? Often, people forget to clean their pet’s ears, which can be problematic because the accumulation of debris in their ears can cause painful infections or ear mites that can be difficult to treat or cure. Fortunately for your pup, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Read on for some tips on how to clean your dog’s ears properly. Just remember that while we want to help your pup live their best life, Natural Dog Company balms should never be used inside dogs’ ears. Now let’s get started!

What Ear Problems Affect Dogs?

It’s fine and dandy to say “You should clean their ears,” but the question for many folks is “Why?” Well, dogs are prone to several different conditions that affect their ears. Usually, these problems stem from a buildup of dirt and wax in the ear canal. So, while a human might clean out their ears every few days, your dog needs a little help from you.

Spotting ear issues can also signify other problems like allergies, skin infections, and even tumors. So it’s important to be diligent about examining your pup’s ears regularly and seeking veterinary care when necessary. Some of the most common ear problems that dogs face include:

  • Ear Infections: A buildup of bacteria, yeast, or other foreign material can cause an infection in the ear canal.
  • Ear Mites: These parasites live in your pup’s ear canals and feed on their skin cells. It’s not uncommon for them to lead to itching, redness, irritation, foul odor, and even hair loss around the ears. Later on, they may cause an ear infection as well.
  • Foreign Bodies: Sometimes, hazards can become lodged in your pup’s ear canal and cause irritation and infection. These include:
    • Grass
    • Dirt
    • Bugs
    • Other Debris
  • Wax Buildup: Above average wax accumulation can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other organisms.

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Seven Tips for Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

A man's hand is stroking a dog. Love for pets and friendship concept. Close up dog portrait.

Ear scratches and rubs are an enjoyable way to get your dog used to having their ears touched.

1. Get your dog used to having their ears touched

This process starts when they’re a puppy or newly adopted. Touching and playing with your dog’s ears can get them used to having their ears touched in general, which will make it easier for you to clean them when needed. So, make it an enjoyable experience. Lots of treats, happy voices, and pets will make them feel good about it.

2. Frequently check your dog’s ears

This is extremely important because it allows you to spot any changes that could indicate the presence of infection or discomfort in their ears. If you have a routine grooming schedule, make it a part of that. If not, it’s an excellent time to get one started. If you’re wondering how often you should wash your dog or if routine brushing is the thing, it might vary by breed and how much time your dog spends outdoors. However, they will definitely benefit from a regular grooming regimen.

3. Get help if you need it

Cleaning your dog’s ears might be a two-person job if they’re not a big fan or they wriggle a lot. While making the experience enjoyable is essential, as is their general safety. By having another person there to help hold your pup, you can better concentrate on cleaning their ears regardless of their size.

dog grooming - bulldog getting ears cleaned by woman

Special ear wipes are now available to make ear cleaning easier.

4. Use the proper supplies

If you’re not quite sure what you should be using to clean your dog’s ears, here’s a quick list: a soft cloth, cotton balls, and a gentle vet-recommended ear cleaner. You may also find vet-approved ear wipes that can be used as well. Never use Q-tips, avoid potentially harsh or irritating products, and never use any cleaner not designed for your pet’s ears. This means no hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or even water. Our grooming wipes are ideal for quick clean-up of the outside of the ears, too!

5. Use natural supplements

Adding natural supplements to your dog’s diet can help strengthen their ear health and prevent future infections or diseases. A natural dog skin and coat supplement will help lessen allergy symptoms, which can cause ear infections.

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6. Rule out or address other issues

If your dog constantly gets ear infections, it might indicate a more significant problem. Usually, allergies are the root cause of ear issues in dogs. Addressing the allergies with medication or supplements may help prevent ear infections and save you a trip to the veterinarian. It may also be helpful to use special shampoos when bathing your dog because they will help reduce the number of allergens on their coat. Try special dog shampoo for itchy skin, just remember to avoid getting any in their ears.

7. Follow these steps when cleaning your dog’s ears

It’s not too hard to clean your dog’s ears and, by following these steps, you’ll be sure to make it both safe and effective. Remember to keep it positive, be thorough, and never push too hard.

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Gently supporting your dog’s head makes ear cleaning easier for you and more comfortable for them.

  • Place your dog in a comfortable position and ensure they are as prepared and relaxed as possible.
  • Hold their head upright, so you have clear access to their ear. This is where the second set of hands may come in handy.
  • If there’s any sort of scabbing, swelling, or discharge, stop and take your dog to the veterinarian.
  • Clean the outer ear with a soft cotton ball or cloth dampened with the ear-cleaning solution. Ensure the cleaner is at room temperature for a more comfortable experience.
  • Use a new cotton ball soaked in the ear cleaner solution and gently squeeze the liquid into the ear canal opening.
  • Massage your dog’s ear, holding the pinna (flap), for a minute or two. This will help loosen wax and debris and promote better cleaning.
  • Very gently use a dry cotton ball or special ear wipes for pets to remove the loosened debris.
  • Let your dog shake it out! Of course, they’ll want to shake their head after all of that, so let them.
  • Give your dog a little break and treats of encouragement.
  • Repeat the process on the other ear.

When in Doubt, Ask a Pro

Even if you think you know how to clean your dog’s ears, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian if it’s your first time doing so. They can give you more specific instructions on cleaning your dog’s ears and help address any underlying issues that may be causing the frequent infections.