Cleaning your dog’s ears is an essential part of your dog’s grooming routine. Ear mites and ear infections can cause serious discomfort, but luckily, they’re almost completely avoidable given the right amount of care and attention.
While it’s crucial you clean your dog’s ears regularly to achieve healthy ears, over-cleaning is just as likely to cause irritation, so it’s vital you learn how to do it properly.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about cleaning your dog’s ears.
Why Do Dog’s Ear Canal Get Dirty?
There are many factors that can contribute to an accumulation of earwax and dirt in your dog’s ear canals.
Most of our canine pals love to roll around in dirt and swim in any mucky water they find, which is more than enough to cause a buildup of dirt in their ear flap over time.
Breeds with floppy ears like Doodles, basset hounds and cocker spaniels are more prone to ear problems. This is partly because of reduced airflow, the shape of the dog’s ear canal and hair growth in the inner ear.
These features provide a perfect environment for yeast infections, wax buildup and general irritation so cleaning your dog’s ears should be done more often.
Allergies are another potential cause of doggy ear issues, so be sure to check with your veterinarian if there’s an unexplained recurring problem.
How Frequently Should Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears Be?
There’s no schedule for ear cleaning because every individual dog has different needs. As its pet parents, get to know its ears and the proper ear cleaning process as well as possible. The best way to decide when to clean dog ears is by looking at them.
It’s especially important that you learn the difference between dirty dog ears that just need a good ear cleaning over infected or inflamed, painful ears that require attention from a veterinarian.
Understanding Your Dog’s Ear Health
Here are the main things to check for when determining whether your dog’s ears require regular ear cleaning or veterinary attention.
Signs of an Ear Infection
- Your dog holds its head to one side
- It scratches and paws at its ears
- A dark or unusual discharge coming from the ear opening
- A foul or yeasty smell coming from any part of the ear
- When you dog appears to be in pain
- Scabs in the ear
Signs Your Dog’s Ears Need an Ear Cleaning
- Your dog shakes its head more than usual
- Mild odor
- Buildup of yellowy-orange or light brown wax
- Inner ears are light pink and not swollen
Which Ear Cleaner Should You Use?
Ear wash, cotton ball, cotton pad, there are a variety of ear cleaners available on the market, and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for your dog. The best ear cleaners for cleaning your dog’s ears are ones that are veterinarian-approved. A professional groomer or veterinarian can also provide you with recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs.
One 100% natural solution that’s non-irritating is pure aloe vera gel with the aloin removed, which makes the dog comfortable when cleaning ears and is safe in case your dog licks the residue off its ear. Never use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning your dog’s ears as it might cause damage over time.
7 Steps for Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears
- Lift the ear flap: Using your index finger and thumb, gently lift your dog’s ear flap and examine whether your dog’s ear needs cleaning.
- Examine: Hold the ear flap for a good minute and carefully look for any signs of infection or allergic reaction, such as odor, discharge, swelling or redness. Earwax may sometimes be a light brown color, but if it’s dark, red or pus-colored, there might be an infection present.
- Use cotton balls: If there’s no sign of a problem, use a cotton ball to very gently wipe the entrance of the outer ear canal and the ear pinna. Avoid using cotton swabs or anything hard or pointy as it could cause damage to the eardrum.
- Apply ear cleaning solution: When using a packaged ear cleaning solution, gently apply the applicator inside the ear and squeeze to release the liquid. The ear cleaning solution nozzles are designed to prevent damage to the eardrum, but be extra-careful not to insert it too deeply into the ear.
- Gently massage the base of the ear: Gently massaging helps evenly distribute the cleaning solution around the ear — and it also makes the experience more pleasant for your pup.
- Wipe away excess: Be careful to wipe away any excess liquid using gauze, as dampness is a major cause of infection and could undo all the hard work you’ve done cleaning. Gauze is best for the final wipe of the inner ear canal because it won’t leave any fibers behind.
- Repeat: Continue on to the other ear. If your dog is currently using ear drops, always use them after cleaning both ears.
Tips to Prevent Ear Infections
While some breeds are just more prone to ear problems, there are still some steps you can take to promote ear wellness:
- Dampness is a major cause of ear issues in dogs, so be extra-thorough when it comes to drying your pooch off after swimming or bathing.
- Follow the cleaning protocols outlined above whenever you see a buildup of wax and dirt in your dog’s ear.
- If your dog shakes their head after ear cleaning. It could be that they are simply trying to get the water out, or trying to relieve any discomfort they may be feeling. Watch out though, if your dog’s head is shaking excessively, something might have gone wrong and a trip to the vet is required.
- Take your pet straight to the veterinarian at the slightest hint there’s a problem or something doesn’t seem right. The sooner you get it diagnosed and treated, the less likely it is to evolve into a bigger issue.
Meet the Doodle of Your Dreams Today
Doodles have some of the cutest floppy ears of any dog breed, and it’s up to you as their pooch parent to make sure they’re as clean and comfy as possible through properly cleaning your dog’s ears. They’ll offer you love, companionship and endless loyalty in return.