How to Properly Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Cleaning the ears is one of the most important hygiene procedures for dogs. The responsibility lies entirely on the shoulders of the owners, so you should not neglect brushing, because the health of the pet depends on it.

However, not everyone knows how to properly perform it and with what regularity. In this article, you will learn all the details of the procedure and will be able to examine the dog’s ears at home.


How to know when it’s time to clean your pet’s ears

During the examination, it becomes clear whether it is necessary to clean the dog’s ears, or it is necessary to delay the procedure. It’s easy to clean a dog’s ears at home, but only if there’s no inflammation or allergies.

When healthy, the skin on the inside of his ears is pale pink (dark pink is typical for black pets). If, however, the shade is red and there is an unpleasant discharge or odor, you should immediately contact your veterinarian.

The inside of the ear of dogs with standing ears should be examined every 2 weeks. Painstaking care is indicated for dog breeds that grow thick and long hair in the ears, which interferes with the natural separation of wax. For hygiene purposes, hairs are shortened or trimmed.

Dogs with floppy, poorly ventilated ears, the structure of which predisposes them to create an environment favorable to the development of pathogenic bacteria and fungi, should be examined once a week. The frequency of hygiene procedures also varies depending on the pet’s environment and age:

  • Outdoor pets need ear cleaning more than apartment pets.
  • Sulfur is excreted faster in adult dogs than in young dogs.
  • Wax and sebum are necessary to protect the epidermis inside the ears. They protect the auditory organ from insect bites, bugs and temperature changes. Brushing your ears too often can damage the protective layer and make your ear vulnerable to external stimuli.
  • Warn if your pet accumulates earwax or dirt too often and is restless, running around, shaking his head or scratching his ears with his paws.

If he has no discharges or unpleasant smells in his ears, he doesn’t need to have them cleaned!

How to Train Your Dog to Brush His Ears

To minimize the stress of examining and brushing the ears, it’s best to teach the hygiene procedure to your pet from an early age. Babies adapt more quickly to new manipulations, including ear cleaning.

The process of cleaning the ears itself is not difficult and takes only 2-5 minutes, but only if the pet trusts its owner. Accustoming the dog to this hygienic procedure takes place through reinforcement of positive emotions: you can give the dog a treat, praise and petting. It’s important to let him know that brushing his ears is no big deal. Intimidation and violent manipulation are prohibited. If the pet pulls away, there is a great chance of inadvertently injuring him. Even raising the voice will make the pet uncomfortable, so a rough tone of voice should be avoided.

Instructions for ear brushing:

  • Call the dog to you, pet him, give him a treat, praise him and let him go.
  • Call the dog again after a while, quickly look inside the ear canal, and let him go for a walk.
  • With each subsequent manipulation, add time to examine the ears.
  • As the pet gets used to the examination, inadvertently try rubbing the ear lobe with a bandage without touching the ear canal. At the end, don’t forget to encourage him with a treat or praise.

Not only puppies but also adult dogs can be trained this way. However, it will take more time.

If the dog does not let you examine and clean his ears, it means that the owner made mistakes during the accustoming to the procedure. In difficult cases, when you do everything right, but the dog still refuses the hygiene procedure, you should see a doggy therapist to correct the behavior.

If your dog used to let you examine and clean his ears, but now he won’t let you near him, that’s a reason to see your vet, the reason for the change in behavior may be due to ear inflammation and pain.

Now that you have accustomed your pet to examining his ears, you should choose an ear cleaner.

Tools for cleaning a dog’s ears

To clean your dog’s ears, use:

  • Soft cotton pads for regular care,
  • Rough gauze wipes. It is not recommended to use if the ears are inflamed.
  • Children’s cotton swabs with a stopper.

Use only for treating the pinna, do not insert cotton pads or absorbent cotton into the ear canal because of the risk of trauma and the formation of wax plugs.

Special products can be used to make cleaning the ears easier:


The most popular ear cleanser for dogs, available at pet stores or veterinary drugstores. Lotions are divided by their properties into:

  • Ceruminolytics (which dissolve sulfur). These products include: propylene glycol, squalene, urea peroxide, glycerin. For example, the lotion Global Vet Ear Cleaner.
  • Drying agents. contains alcohol or acids. For example, Cliny Ear Cleansing Lotion.
  • Antiseptic lotions. More often recommended for dogs who have previously had inflammation of the ears to prevent a recurrence of otitis media. For example, Otodin.
  • Combination lotions. Gently cleans the ear canal, relieves discomfort and removes unpleasant odor. Examples of such lotions are 8in1 Pro-Sense Ear Cleanser and Epi-Otic Virbus Ear Lotion.

The use of most lotions is contraindicated if the eardrum is damaged. If your pet has inflammation of the ears, you should read the product’s instructions and consult your veterinarian before using the cleanser.


The most convenient option for hygiene for lop dogs. The powder absorbs moisture and dries wax, helping to clean the ear canal quickly and without pain, and neutralizes odors.

The powder is also recommended for trimming ears; it helps in capturing hairs easily with tweezers or fingers.

Wet wipes

Special wet wipes for cleansing dogs’ ears are imbued with substances that effectively dissolve wax and dirt but won’t irritate the delicate skin inside his ears. The wipes are easy to use when traveling because they do not take up much space and are convenient to use.

Saline solution

If you don’t have a cleanser for your dog’s ears at home, you can use regular 0.9% Sodium Chloride saline solution. It cleans the ears worse, but it can be used if there is a suspicion of an eardrum perforation.

If your pet is prescribed medicinal ear drops, they must be applied 15-30 minutes after cleaning the ears.

What not to brush your dog’s ears with

The main mistake when brushing your dog’s ears is using inappropriate products:

  • Cotton swabs are by no means suitable for deep cleaning of dogs’ ear canals. if you use them, you can injure the ear canal if the dog suddenly jerks. You can also push the wax deeper, which can cause inflammation. It is not uncommon for absorbent cotton from a wax stick to remain in the ear and have to be removed with special equipment under anesthesia.
  • Use of gauze to treat the inside of the ear is contraindicated. After cleaning, pieces of thread may be left behind, which would be difficult and dangerous for the dog to remove on its own. The same goes for dry paper wipes, which fall to pieces when moistened. Use gauze wipes that do not break down into fibers or special wet wipes.
  • Chlorhexidine. It should not be used in its pure form, in high concentration it has ototoxic effect. It is acceptable to use industrial lotions with a minimum content of antiseptic substance.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is not recommended because it can cause chemical burns and perforation of the eardrum if it gets into the ear canal.
  • Green tea. There is advice on the internet to clean the ear with a fresh beverage and gauze. However, this method has no advantages and can cause allergies in the dog
  • Herbal infusions. Calendula and chamomile are believed to have healing and healing properties. However, these solutions should never be put into the ear. They wipe the ear drum, but the proven effectiveness and advantage over other means this method has no.
  • Shampoos and gels are not recommended for treating your pet’s ears, since contact allergies may occur.
  • Never use ethyl alcohol or vinegar, as there is a high risk of burns.

Before using a new ear cleaner it is best to consult your veterinarian, if this is not possible, use regular saline solution of Sodium Chloride 0.9%.

How to clean a dog’s ears

The ear cleaning procedure should be done carefully, without sudden movements. It is important to instill confidence in the dog and not to cause pain, so that in the future the pet treats this procedure easily.

Our experts have prepared step by step instructions on how to clean your dog’s ears:

  • The dog should be easily secured
  • Lift the floppy ears, inspect and assess the degree of contamination
  • Fill your pet’s ear canal completely with lotion. Depending on the size of the dog, an average of 0.5 to 3 ml of product per ear
  • Massage the ears at the base of the ear with your fingers
  • Allow the dog to shake its head. Your dog will remove the excess lotion on his own by shaking his ears.
  • Wrap a gauze cloth or cotton swab dipped in cleanser around his finger and wipe the inside of the ear lobe. The ear canal itself does not need to be cleaned!
  • If you have a lot of dried discharge, you can soften it up first with a cotton pad soaked in lotion and place it in the ear canal for a few minutes.

Cleaning the ears is easy because hygiene is done superficially. If the pet needs a deep cleaning of the ear canal, rinsing it out, this procedure is performed by a veterinarian.

When to go to the vet

If you notice the following symptoms while examining and cleaning the ears, a veterinarian should be consulted:

  • The dog is scratching his ears, shaking his head
  • The skin of the ear canal and ear canal is red, swollen
  • Scabs, flakes or heavy discharge
  • Persistent, unpleasant odor (Normally, dogs have a specific odor from their ears that is not disgusting)

Before visiting the vet, ears should not be cleaned and drips should not be applied as this may obscure the clinical picture and complicate the diagnosis.