by Dwight Alleyne, DVM
If you regularly groom your dogs, cleaning their ears is a vital part of the process. Maintaining ear hygiene can be beneficial in reducing ear infections and keeping your pet comfortable. If cleaning dog ears seems like a daunting task, we are here to help. It’s important to know the proper technique to prevent potential damage to the ear and what products to use for the best results.
Is Cleaning Dog Ears at Home Important?
The anatomy of your dog’s ear can make it very easy for debris to get trapped inside the ear. There’s a space called the horizontal canal that leads from the opening of the ear to the deep structures within. This space can be prone to trapping moisture and debris, making the ear susceptible to infection or inflammation. Cleaning the ears can help prevent debris from accumulating and help manage moisture in the ears, therefore decreasing risk of infection.
The Supplies You Need for Ear Cleaning
What you use to clean your dog’s ears is very important. Fortunately, you don’t need any specialized material to prepare for ear cleaning. Common materials used to clean the ears are cotton balls and gauze. You should avoid harsh materials such as rags or paper towels, as they can add to the irritation. Cotton tip applicators, such as Q-tips, should be avoided for a few reasons. These can cause damage to the eardrum if your dog’s ears are penetrated too deep. Also, they tend to push debris further down in the ear instead of expelling it.
The type of cleaning solution you use is also imperative for healthy ears. Some of the better ear cleaners have ingredients with antifungal and antibacterial properties. Others are great at soothing the inner surface of the ear with natural products and keeping a good balance of moisture. Skout’s Honor Probiotic Ear Cleaner is one of those products with antibacterial and soothing properties. Thisear cleaner doesn’t have harsh ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can exacerbate an already inflamed ear.
Other Factors To Consider Before Cleaning Dog Ears
Now that you have all the materials needed to clean the ears, there are things to consider before you start. One is how often you clean the ears. Over cleaning the ears can cause irritation, leading to further health issues. On average, if cleaning the ears for maintenance reasons, the ears should be cleaned about 1-2 times a week. If you note that your dog’s ears are inflamed or painful, it is best to have the ears evaluated by your veterinarian prior to starting a cleaning regimen.
Step-by-Step Guide To Cleaning Ears the Right Way
Technique is important in order to clean your dog’s ears, so we have provided a step-by-step guide below to assist you:
- Restraining your dog the right way can be helpful in cleaning the ears effectively. You can either sit your dog in front of you in between your legs or have one side against the wall.
- Gently grab one of the ear flaps and pull it up vertically so you can have access to the ear canal.
- While you’re holding the ear flap, fill the ear canal with the ear cleaner, then gently massage the base of the ear. Massaging the base allows for debris in the ear to loosen up. It is normal to hear squishing sounds during this time.
- Your dog should be allowed to shake his head to allow for any loosened debris and excessive ear solution to move up the ear canal.
- Using gauze or a cotton ball, gently clean out any remaining debris and cleaning solution from the ear canal.
- Repeat the same technique for the other ear.
- After you’re finished, you can offer your dog a treat to help make this process more positive for them.
As you can see, cleaning dogs’ ears at home is a straightforward process. Just a reminder: If during this process you note any pain or redness, please discontinue and contact your veterinarian.
So What Have You Learned About Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears?
Cleaning your dog’s ears doesn’t have to be a scary process. By following the tips we’ve provided, you can ensure a safe and easy experience for your dog. Remember to use the right materials and a high quality ear cleaner such as Skout’s Honor Probiotic Ear Cleaner to maximize results.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne is a veterinarian with over a decade of experience treating cats and dogs. He is also the creator of the Animal Doctor Blog, where he provides general health advice and pet product reviews.
The Canadian Veterinary Journal - Canine Otitis Externa — Treatment and Complications
Merck Veterinary Manual - Otitis Externa in Animals