Essential Tips on How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears Properly at Home

One of the many cute things about our dogs is their ears. I mean, who doesn’t like to fondle dogs’ ears? Whether it’s the upright ears of a German Shepherd, the pendant ears of a Basset Hound, the button ears of a Jack Russell Terrier or the rose ears of a Greyhound, dogs’ ears are too cute not to touch. But a dog’s ears are oftentimes overlooked when it comes to regular dog maintenance.

Have you ever cuddled your dog and noticed that they have smelly ears? Have you ever wondered how to clean your dog’s ears safely? Have you ever thought of what to clean them with?

Here are some essential tips to answer some of your questions.

Why is it important to clean your dog’s ears?

A dog’s ears can easily get dirty because of the way they are structured. Dirt can easily enter upright ears, while floppy ears can easily trap dirt. A dog’s ears can also be infected by mites, fungi, bacteria, or yeast. An infection can also occur after bathing, because water can carry different bacteria with it. Therefore, cleaning a dog’s ears is very important in order to help them maintain a healthy life.

When should you clean your dog’s ears?

When you sniff your dog’s ears, do they smell like very old cheese, or yeast, or sewerage? Look inside your dog’s ears. Are they red, with a dark wax coating? Then it’s way past time to clean them.

Be careful about over-cleaning, though. You wouldn’t want to clean your dog’s ears too much, because just like human ears, the ear wax in a dog’s ears has an important function. Ear wax actually collects all the dirt that enters the ear. Usually, the dirt-filled wax slides out of the ear, but occasionally it builds up and becomes a source of odor and infection.

Just clean them enough so that they do not smell like the gutter, and instead remain pink, with a pale wax coating. If you clean your dog’s ears too much, then they might develop some sort of irritation.

Try to develop a weekly ear inspection routine with your dog. Not only will you catch early onsets of infection, but you will help air circulate inside the ears. This is especially helpful for dogs with pendant ears.

What should you clean your dog’s ears with?

Some owners use homemade solutions like water-vinegar or water-hydrogen peroxide mixtures to clean their dogs’ ears.

A mixture of two parts water and one part vinegar is generally recommended by many owners and vets. However, other vets point out that vinegar is a fermented, liquid so it contains bacteria that may irritate your dog’s ears.

Some vets say that one part water mixed with one part hydrogen peroxide can be poured over cotton balls, which can then be used to wipe the outside of a dog’s ear canal. By contrast, other vets caution that hydrogen peroxide works by releasing extra oxygen and leaving only water – or H2O – behind. As stated above, water can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

There are many ear-cleaning solutions made for dogs that can be bought in pet stores. These are varied and contain different ingredients. For best results or easier application, buy a cleaner stored in a squeeze bottle. The ear cleaner you buy will depend on your needs.

  • If you want to remove scales on the skin, make any swelling go down, and relieve itchiness, then get a cleaner with organic acids like salicylic, benzoic, or malic. Combining acetic with boric acid can treat yeast infection in your dog’s ears. Do not use these acids too frequently, because they can irritate the ears. Do not use them for ear canals that have ulcers either, because they may cause pain to your dog.
  • If you want to remove ear wax and moisturize the ears, then buy something with propylene glycol. Be careful, though, because your dog might get dermatitis if you use this substance frequently.
  • If you want to remove ear wax while drying out the ears of a dog that loves to swim a lot, then get something with alcohol or menthol. Alcohol might dry the ears too much, which could lead to an irritated ear or a stinging sensation for your dog, so I suggest you remain cautious.
  • If you want an antibacterial solution on your dog’s ears, then get a cleanser with parachlorometaxylenol.

Many ear cleaners for dogs might cause deafness because of their toxicity. Consult your vet, especially if your dog has some existing irritation or wound in its ears. The bottom line is that you should use a solution that is completely safe for your furry pal.

The top three ear-cleaning solutions on Amazon are:

  • Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner – contains lactic and salicylic acids, and propylene glycol; alcohol-free and has a low pH level of 2.2, so it is mild if used in your dog’s ears
  • EcoEars Natural Dog Ear Cleaner – contains denatured grain alcohol and boric acid among other ingredients; cleans ears and treats the symptoms of other ear problems

How do you clean your dog’s ears properly at home?

You can follow these steps when you clean your dog’s ears:

1. Prepare the ear-cleaning area. This activity might get messy, so it might be best to carry it out outdoors. You will also get splashed with the ear cleaner, so I suggest you put on old clothes. If you need to put your fingers inside your dog’s ears, put on some gloves or at least wash your hands very thoroughly.

Try to warm up the ear cleaner by holding the bottle between your hands for a few minutes or by leaving the solution on a counter where it can warm up to room temperature. This will ensure that your dog does not jump from shock because a very cold liquid is suddenly in its ear.

Most important of all, prepare your dog’s treats. Having yummy treats before and after an activity is sure to get your dog to let you clean its ears.

2. You might want to play with your dog before the ear-cleaning session so that they relax before going through this process.

Get your dog to sit in the designated area. Inspect your dog’s ears by pulling the earflap up. Look for redness, swelling, dark ear wax, or dirty discharge that may signal an ear infection. If you find any of these, bring your dog to your vet for a more thorough examination and to find the cause of the irritation.

If you don’t spot any signs of an irritation, you might want to start by giving your dog a treat to distract them. Then gently tilt your dog’s head to the side. Pour or squeeze the ear cleaner into the ear canal until the whole canal is filled up. Then fold the earflap over the opening of the ear canal so that the solution will not spill out.

Do not use a Q-tip to apply the solution in your dog’s ear canal because you might push ear wax or debris deeper into the canal or, worse, damage your dog’s eardrum.

3. Gently massage the ear so that the cleaner can break down the ear wax and other dirt stuck inside. You will hear a squishing sound if you have put enough solution in the ear. Dogs usually love this part, so you can massage for about 30 to 60 seconds.

4. After massaging, release the earflap and stand back as your dog shakes the cleaner out of their ear. There will be a lot of dirty splatters if your dog’s ears are really dirty.

5. Use a cotton ball to wipe away any dislodged dirt that remains in the opening of the canal. Again, going inside the canal with a tool is a big no-no. If you don’t like using cotton balls, you can use the Amazon bestselling Pet MD ear wipes with Aloe Vera and eucalyptus or VetWell’s dog ear wipes, which have been specially formulated to fight yeast, mites, and other bacteria that cause ear infections.

6. Reward your dog with a treat and verbal praises.

7. If the ear you’ve just cleaned still looks very dirty, repeat the procedure. Otherwise, do the same procedure for your dog’s other ear.

8. Again, reward your dog with a treat and verbal praises. Make the experience as positive as possible for your dog so that they will not make a fuss next time you plan a cleaning activity.

What else should you know in order to clean your dog’s ears safely?

  • Try not to clean your dog’s ears after haircutting, bathing, or nail clipping sessions, since these are already stressful for your furry pal.
  • If your dog looks like they are in pain when you clean their ears, stop and bring them to the doctor. There might an ulcer or irritation in the inner ear that you cannot see.
  • If your dog is getting ear medication or treatment, clean the ears first before applying the medicine.

These tips are meant to help you clean your dog’s ears gently at home. But these should not replace a trip to the vet for an in-depth examination of your pet’s ears.

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