Clean Your Dogs Ears Regularly and
Prevent Ear Infections

If you clean your dogs ears regularly, you can prevent problems, particularly infections.

Ear infections are common in dogs, especially ones with big floppy ears.

These ears trap moisture and keep air out.

This combination creates a nice humid condition in your dogs ears, perfect for bacteria and yeast to develop.

Another cause of infections is allergies.

They cause a build-up of ear wax, which becomes a breeding ground for microbes.

Or your dog might have ear mites, tiny insects that enjoy a meal at his expense.

Mites aren't common in dogs, but if yours shares your attention with a cat, he may pick them up from her.

If he's always scratching his ears, you see a discharge in his ears, or there's a bad smell coming from them, he may have an infection.

A trip to the vet will determine the cause of the infection (bacteria, yeast, allergies).

She will then prescribe the appropriate medication to help your dog deal with the infection.

Please don't take ear infections lightly. If left untreated, ear infections can cause permanent damage in your dogs ears.

This can include scarring and thickening of the ear canal, rupture of the ear drum, and possible infection of the middle ear and even deeper, to the bones and nerves involved in hearing.

The best way to prevent dog ear infections is to clean your dogs ears regularly.

They don't need to be cleaned every day, but once every two weeks would be good.

Inspect them daily and you'll know when they need to be cleaned.

If he has long floppy ears, like a Bloodhound, or very hairy ears, like a Cocker Spaniel, once a week may be better.

If he loves to swim, be sure to dry your dogs ears at the end of the swim.

This will reduce the risk of developing infections as well.

See dog handling for information on how to restrain and muzzle him.

You'll need an ear-cleaning solution, a lot of cotton balls, and a few cotton swabs.

Have a flashlight nearby so you can check the canals for a thorough cleaning. Avoid cleaning solutions with alcohol in them, and don't use homemade cleaners (see above for more on this).

A packaged solution contains all the ingredients to break up the wax and float it and other debris up from the bottom of the canal, where you can reach and remove it.

  • Do you have all your supplies set up in a small room?
  • Muzzled your dog if you think he might bite you?
  • Wearing some old clothes?

You might end up with cleaning solution, along with wax and debris, on your clothes, so you don't want to be wearing your work clothes.

If you're ready, it's time to bring him in.

Let's Begin

Take firm hold of one of your dog's ears. If his ears are floppy, hold the flap straight up.

Continue holding while you squirt some cleaning solution into his ear. If he's a small dog, use one teaspoon (5 ml) of solution. If he's large, use one tablespoon (15 ml).

Before he shakes his head, massage the base of your dogs ear, where it meets his head.

You should hear the cleaner swishing or sloshing around inside his ear. This movement helps to distribute the cleaner evenly so that it breaks up all the wax.

Let go of his ear and let him shake his head to remove excess cleaner.

This is where you might end up wearing some solution. Repeat the process with the other ear. Lift the ear, squirt in the solution, massage the ear, and let him shake out the excess.

Back at the first ear, place a cotton ball on the end of a finger that will fit down his ear canal.

Slowly and gently put your finger into the canal and wipe out the wax. Do this with a scooping motion.

You don't want to force the debris farther down the canal, so be sure to scoop. Use as many cotton balls as you need to get all the dirt out.

Check with the flashlight for any missed lumps. When you have it all, ensure that the canal and ear flap (especially one that flops over) are dry.

If you leave them wet, you're leaving conditions that will promote rapid yeast or bacterial growth. Clean the other ear in the same fashion.

If he has hairy ears, clip the hair short under the ear, especially near the entrance to the ear. This will allow more air into the canal, drying it.

There's less chance of debris (dead hair, dead skin cells) entering.

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