How to Clean Dog Ears SAFELY and [Correctly]

How to clean dog ears is a critical skill for all pet owners and grooming professionals alike. However, it is not such a straightforward exercise as it sounds. It can be challenging to clean your dog’s ears if it is not conditioned to accept cleaning. You will also find it a little bit challenging if you are not comfortable doing it.

In this regard, pet owners and groomers need firsthand knowledge of cleaning dog ears. But if you don’t have this knowledge, don’t fret. After reading this detailed guide, you will have all the knowledge you need.   

When do I Need to Clean My Dog’s Ears?

One of the essential things you ought to do is to determine whether your dog needs ear cleaning. This is critical because if you over-clean your dog’s ears, it could result in irritation and infections.

So what are the features of a clean, healthy ear? It should be pink, odorless, without dirt, and not have a yeasty or stinky smell. Of course, it would help if you only clean it whenever you notice any changes.

It is also important to remember that there are dogs that don’t need frequent cleaning. But, some that are prone to ear infections or those that spend more time in water might need regular cleaning.

Veterinary experts advise that you should keep your furry friend’s ear canals dry and well ventilated. You can do that using topical astringents if your dogs swim regularly. It would also help to prevent water from entering your canine’s ear canal during bathing.

Therefore, if you detect a mild odor coming from your dog’s ears, it is time to clean your dog’s ears. However, if you realize that your canine friend is shaking its head more than usual or its ears look red and inflamed it seems to be in severe pain, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

These are usually signs of an infection, allergies, or pests like fleas and mites. Additionally, if you attempt to clean an infected dog’s ear, you might worsen the situation.

Why You Should Not Clean Canine Ears With Hydrogen Peroxide

If your doggy is predisposed to ear infections or usually has a lot of wax build-up on its ears, you must have been tempted to clean them using hydrogen peroxide. But is it okay to use hydrogen peroxide to clean your dog’s ears?

No. it is not okay to use hydrogen peroxide to clean a dog’s ears. Hydrogen peroxide usually irritates healthy skin cells. Your furry friend’s ears have very sensitive tissue, and when you continually use hydrogen peroxide, you could eventually damage your pup’s ears.

It is best practice to rather stick to veterinary-approved cleaners–even if you find an excellent article on the internet advising how to clean dog ears with hydrogen peroxide, it is best to take precautions.

Equipment You Will Need to Clean Dog Ears

What do you need to clean a dog’s ears effectively? Well, you don’t need any special equipment; here is what you should have:

  • A top-quality ear cleaning solution. If you are unsure, contact your veterinarian.
  • Cotton balls or gauze.
  • Treats to reward your dog during and after cleaning.
  • A clean towel.
  • Tweezers or hemostats, especially if your dog has too much hair in the ear canals.
  • If you are not used to cleaning your dog ears alone, you can have an extra pair of hands.

Additionally, avoid using cotton tip applicators because, with them, you risk perforating your pup’s eardrum or causing pain to the dog’s ear canal. Also, when you use cotton tip applicators, you could push dirt further into the canine’s ear canal.

A Step-by-Step Guide on Cleaning Canine Ears

  1. You need to find a comfortable position for you and your dog. For example, you can sit on the floor and have your dog sit in front of you with its back end between your legs. On the other hand, suppose you have a large breed dog you can have it sit with its rear end in the corner of a room.
  2. Gently grab one ear holding the ear flap vertically so as to expose the ear canal. This will also help to straighten out your dog’s ear canal.
  3. Gently and firmly hold the cleaning solution with the other hand as you hold your dog’s ear flap.
  4. Squeeze some of the ear cleaning solution into your canine’s ear. Only use enough cleaning solution to fill the ear canal. It is okay if some of the cleaning solution spills out.

Avoid putting the tip of the bottle into your dog’s ear. Wipe the cleaning solution’s bottle tips with a clean cotton ball soaked in alcohol. This will help to prevent the spread of bacteria or yeast.

  1. Keep holding the ear flap up vertically with one hand and tenderly massage the base of the ear below the ear opening. Do this for around 30 seconds. This process helps the cleaning solution to break up all the debris in the ear canal. You will probably hear a squishing sound as the cleaning solution moves in the horizontal part of the ear canal.
  2. Then, while holding the ear flap vertically, wipe away the dirt from the inner part of the ear flap and upper ear canal using the cotton ball or gauze.
  3. Let your furry friend shake its head, as this allows the remaining ear cleaning solution and dirt to move out of the ear canal to the ear’s outer opening.
  4. Hold up the ear flap vertically and remove the loosened dirt and cleaning solution from the ear’s outer opening.
  5. Use a cotton ball or gauze to remove any remaining debris and cleaning solution from the ear canal. Only clean the ear canal as far as your finger can go.
  6. Avoid using cotton-tipped applicators to remove the solution and dirt from the ear canal. You can end up damaging the dog’s eardrum or pushing dirt further into the ear canal.
  7. Provide treats for your furry friend and repeat the same process with the remaining ear.
  8. However, if you detect that your dog is in pain during the cleaning process, please stop and consult your veterinarian.

Note that you should also consult your veterinarian on how often you should clean your dog’s ears.

FAQs on Cleaning Dog Ears

What does a healthy dog ear look and smell like?

If you want to check whether your dog’s ear is healthy, you ought to smell it. A healthy ear does not have any odor. It would help if you started smelling your dog’s ear when it is still a puppy so that you know how a healthy ear smells like.

You should also look inside your furry friend’s ears. A healthy ear usually has nice pink skin with a light coating of pale yellow dog ear wax.  

Can excessive ear cleaning be harmful to my dog?

Yes. Experts warn that when you excessively clean your dog’s ears, you can irritate the ear canal, leading to infections. Therefore, it is essential to know your dog. On the other hand, some canines have healthy ears that may never require cleaning.

On the other hand, dogs with floppy ears require frequent cleaning because they are prone to ear infections. This is because their long and floppy ears do not facilitate proper airflow. As a result, moisture and debris can be easily trapped in the ear canal. This could result in yeast infection if not cleaned.

Also, if your dog swims regularly, it might require regular cleaning because the extra moisture makes it prone to ear infections. Therefore, you should only clean your dog’s ears regularly enough because if you do it too often, you could end up damaging the ear canal.

Which cleaning products should I use on my puppy for its ears?

You are advised to use top-quality ear cleaners when cleaning dog ears. Please avoid cleaning solutions containing hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, as these usually irritate your pup’s ear canal.

Consider using cleaning solutions containing antibacterial or antifungal ingredients. Such cleaners will help prevent ear infections. On the other hand, other cleaners are best to remove wax build-up from puppies’ ears. It would be best to seek your veterinarian’s help to decide on the best dog ear cleaning solution.  

What should I do if my dog has an ear infection?

Suppose your furry friend has an ear infection and requires medication; you should clean the ears before applying any medication. It is also critical to consult your vet before using any medication in your dog’s ears.

First, it is essential to seek your veterinarian’s professional opinion before cleaning an infected ear. The veterinarian will advise you on how often to apply the medication. Please don’t just rely on an article suggesting cleaning dog ears infected with bacteria or yeast. Only use these articles if they are from a reliable source run by professionals.

You can apply the medication immediately after cleaning your dog’s ears. Fortunately, the process of applying medication is straightforward. Here is how to do it:

  1. Gently and firmly grab the tip of the ear, pulling the ear flap straight up. This will help straighten the dog’s ear canal and expose it.
  2. Administer the number of drops your veterinarian prescribed.
  3. Avoid putting the tip of the bottle into the ear. If the bottle’s tip touches the dog’s ear, clean with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. If you don’t do this, you might end up transferring the bacteria or yeast to the other ear.
  4. As you hold the ear flap up, gently massage the base of your furry friend’s ear below the ear opening for around 30 seconds. The massage helps to ensure the medication coats the entire ear canal.
  5. Check whether the inner part of the ear flap is infected. If it is infected, administer the prescribed amount of medication to the infected parts. Then, simply spread the medication using your finger.
  6. Repeat this process for the other ear if required.
  7. Suppose debris or medication piles on the ear flaps wipe it away using cotton balls soaked in your preferred ear cleaning solution.   

How to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs

Pet owners can use some essential tips to ensure they don’t have to deal with dog ear infections. Here are some notable tips pet owners should remember:

  • Use cotton balls in your puppies’ ears to stop moisture from trickling in.
  • You can also use doggie snoods or hoods as bathing caps to protect it from stray water.  
  • It is also advisable to properly dry your dog’s ears with cotton balls after a swim.
  • Don’t try using “how to clean dog ears at home remedy” tips if you suspect an ear infection. Seek professional help immediately.
  • Pet owners should only clean their dogs’ ears when they are healthy. They should also do the cleaning according to the schedule recommended by the vets.
  • Gently remove any visible remains from your dog’s outer canal.
  • You should also never use a syringe to push liquid directly into your furry friend’s inner ear. Instead, the best advice we can give is to massage the liquid into the ear gently.
  • Use gauze to wipe the dog ear canal from the inside out gently. You should never use paper or cotton towels because they usually leave fibers behind.
  • Use cotton swabs to clean the outer folds but avoid poking them into your furry friend’s ears.
  • It is also advisable to trim the hair inside and around your dog’s ear canal. Would you mind not attempting to do this if you don’t know how? Instead, seek the services of a professional groomer.
  • Smell around your dog’s ears to sniff out any infections.
  • Check inside the dog’s ear for any scratches, discharge, or parasites.

Dog Ear Anatomy

A normal dog ear has three main parts:

  • Outer ear – The outer ear is made up of the ear flap, also referred to as the pinna. It can be either floppy or upright. The function of the ear flap is to funnel sound into the dog’s ear canal. The outer ear is separated from the middle ear by a thin membrane called the eardrum or tympanic membrane. The eardrum is very delicate and can be damaged during ear cleaning or by ear infections.
  • Middle ear – The middle ear comprises three small bones, the bulla (an air-filled cavity) and a thin tube that leads from the bulla to the back of the mouth.
  • Inner ear – the inner ear connects to the brain. It contains nerves and centers for hearing and balance.

Enough said. It is clear that your dog’s ear cleanliness is paramount. However, you should ensure that you follow the cleaning instructions from your vets. Finally, if your dog’s ear is infected, please don’t attempt to clean it; seek professional help first. 

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