How To Clean Dog Ears: At Home Edition

March 21, 2022

This blog is brought to you by The Registered Vet Nurses at the HUFT Vet Helpline service. 

Ear-care is an essential part of your dog’s grooming routine. Just like humans, dogs too produce ear wax that needs to be treated at the right time in order to avoid an ear infection, general discomfort or allergies. 

An ear-cleaning routine is also important for your dog’s overall health and well-being. 

Here are some handy tips on how to clean dog ears!

Things You’ll Need

  1. Dog ear cleaning solution 
  2. Dog ear wipes or cotton wool 
  3. Plenty of your dog’s favourite dog treats to reward them with
  4. A willing volunteer to help keep your dog still 

How To Clean A Dog's Ears At Home: 7 Easy Steps! 

  1. If you have a medium or large dog, have them sitting or lying next to you in a comfortable position. If you have a small dog, it may be easier to have them sitting on your lap. If you find that they are fidgeting, let them find a comfortable spot for themselves.

  2. Lift your dog's ear flap and hold it in the upright position between your thumb and forefinger. 
    Dog ear solution
  3. While holding the tip of the bottle in the top of the ear canal, gently squeeze the bottle to release the dog ear cleaning solution and fill the ear canal up, praising your dog as you do so. It is very important to not insert the tip too far into your dog’s ear. Ear cleaning can be a stressful experience for your dogs. Reassuring them, slowing down the pace, and praising them can go a long way in making the experience less stressful.

    Vet Tip: Warming the dog ear cleaning solution before using it can prevent your dog from instantly shaking their head when you squeeze the cleaner in to the ear canal. These bottles are designed specifically for dog’s ears, so you are unlikely to cause trauma to the eardrum.

  4. Massage the ear canal so you can hear the dog ear cleaning solution squelching. The massaging will break up the material at the bottom of the ear canal and allow it to float up to the top.

    Vet Tip: Dogs do tend to enjoy the massage, but they also tend to shake their heads. So do remember to keep your mouth closed as some cleaner may come flying out!

  5. Any excess cleaner or debris found around the top of the ear can be wiped away using dog ear wipes or cotton wool.

  6. Praise your dog and give them some of their favourite dog treats. This will help reinforce positive feelings with getting their ears cleaned. You could also use a lick mat with some toppings like peanut butter, yogurt, broth to take a break and help your dogs feel calm. 

  7. Follow the same procedure with the second ear!

Important Things To Be Aware Of

  1. DO NOT use cotton buds as there is a risk of putting them in too far and causing damage inside the ear. 

  2. Never use the same piece of dog ear wipes or cotton wool in both ears.

  3. If your dog is unhappy with you trying to clean the ears, then don’t struggle as you may cause harm to your dog or yourself. A qualified groomer or a nurse at the vets will be happy to help you. 

  4. Look for calming (or stress) signals like lip licks, yawning, pawing. If you find that they are showing these too frequently or are moving away from you cleaning the ears, don’t push through. It’s possible that they are experiencing pain or discomfort in their ears and wouldn't like for you to touch them. Being able to read these signals will prevent any stress escalation and avoid any snapping incidents.

    HUFT Tip: To know more about calming signals, tune into Rashi’s podcast with trained Behaviour Consultant and Educator, Sindhoor Pangal.

  5. If there is any unusual discharge or smell, contact your vet immediately before continuing.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I clean my dog's ears? 

The best way to clean dog ears is by following the above mentioned instructions. However, if you’re unable to or are apprehensive about accidentally hurting your dog, you can reach out to your nearest HUFT Spa where our professional groomers will be happy to help clean your dog’s ears for you. 

2. What can I clean my dog's ears with? 

Use only a dog ear cleaning solution to clean your dog’s ears. These bottles are specifically for dog’s ears, so you are unlikely to cause trauma to the eardrum. A pet-friendly dog ear wipes can be used for regular ear cleaning. Remember DO NOT use cotton buds as there is a risk of putting them in too far and causing damage inside the ear. Avoid any home remedies that include any human products as they can be damaging to your dog’s ears.

3. When is the best time for cleaning dog's ears?

The best time to clean your dog’s ears is when they are in a calm state of mind. Sometimes that could be during grooming or bath time. Sometimes it could be outside of this. For some dogs, grooming or bathing is stressful enough. Add ear cleaning to that, and it could get very strenuous for them. It is also important to check up on their ears once a month to ensure there is no excess wax buildup. 

4. What are the symptoms for dog ear infection? 

Some symptoms of a dog ear infection include itching, scratching, head-tilts towards the infected ear, unusual odour or discharge and red, painful ears. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

5. My vet has advised against cleaning my dog’s ear? What should I do?

Trust your vet. If your dog has damaged eardrums or inflammation of the ear canal, it is recommended they do not get their ear cleaned as it can damage their ears further. Hence, if your vet has advised against cleaning your dog’s ear, follow their specific instructions. If you wish, you can get a second opinion from another trusted vet. 

6. My dog hates getting her ears cleaned. What should I do?

If your dog is unhappy with you trying to clean the ears, then don’t struggle as you may cause harm to your dog or yourself. Instead, reach out to a qualified groomer or a nurse at the vets who will be happy to assist you.

 

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