How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

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    If your dog has ever had dirty ears or shaking their head, you may have wondered how to clean your dog’s ears. Good news is that you can do this at home without going to the vet! Keep reading to learn how to clean a dog’s ears and why you should clean them.

    Anatomy of the Ear

    Dog and human ears vary greatly in their anatomy. Dog ears are “L” shaped with both a horizontal and vertical canal. Ear wax in the ear canal is created by skin that lines the ear canal that creates cerumin from special glands. The canals come to an end with the tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum. The ear flap (or pinna) aids in the concentration of sound waves in the ear canals and onto the eardrum. 

    Why You Should Clean Your Dog’s Ears

    Regular ear cleaning can prevent certain conditions such as ear infections but not all dogs need it. While some dogs can have naturally clean ears and do not need regular cleaning, some dogs do need regular cleaning to prevent ear infections and other ear-related conditions that are a result of dirt buildup. Although ear infections can develop in any breed, they are more frequent in dog breeds with long-hanging ears, such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. Dogs with long-hanging ears should have their ears checked and cleaned regularly.

    How to Know It’s Time to Clean a Dog’s Ears

    It’s important to only clean your dog’s ears when it’s time to be cleaned. If you over-clean your dog’s ears, it could result in an infection and irritation. If a dog is more predisposed to ear infections, then they may need their ears cleaned more often. Dogs who are in the water a lot also would need to be cleaned more often. Signs that your dog is ready for an ear cleaning include:

    • Shaking their head a lot 
    • Ears are red and inflamed
    • Smells yeasty
    • Ear pain

    Your veterinarian can advise you on how regularly you should clean your dog’s ears. If your dog’s ears are red, inflamed, or painful, see your veterinarian before cleaning them. Your dog might have an ear infection or a burst eardrum.

    What Supplies Can You Use?

    Luckily, you can clean your dog’s ears with just a few simple supplies. Essentially, you will just need either a cotton ball or gauze, an ear-cleaning solution, and a towel. It’s advised not to use cotton swabs or anything with a pointed tip as these can force dirt further into the ear canal which can lead to an ear infection or cause trauma or injury to the ear.

    When it comes to ear cleaning solutions, you should opt for a veterinarian-approved solution instead of making one at home as they can contain harmful ingredients. If you aren’t sure which one to use, you can consult with your veterinarian on what they suggest. 

    How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

    1. Get set up in the bathroom with your supplies as it can get messy when your dog shakes their head with the solution in it. 
    2. Restrain your dog if needed in a way you feel comfortable. This might be wrapping them in a towel for smaller dogs or just simply keeping them on a leash.
    3. Hold up the ear flap so it’s pointed vertical to the ceiling.
    4. Fill up the ear canal with the ear cleaning solution while being careful to not put the tip of the bottle into the ear.
    5. Hold the ear flap up and massage the base for about 30 seconds to move the cleaning solution around the ear canal.
    6. Use your cotton swab or gauze to clean the ear canal and wipe away any dirt or debri.
    7. Let your dog shake their head to move the solution around and naturally loosen any remaining debris.
    8. Wipe away any loosened debris but only as far as your finger can reach so you don’t damage the eardrum or ear canal.
    9. Repeat with the other ear.
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