How Do You Clean Dog Ears?

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Cleaning your dog’s ears is an important part of their grooming routine. Just like humans, dogs can develop wax buildup and debris in their ears, which can lead to infections and discomfort. In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to clean your dog’s ears safely and effectively.


1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you start cleaning your dog’s ears, you’ll need to gather a few supplies. You’ll need a gentle ear cleaning solution, cotton balls or gauze, and possibly some treats to help keep your dog calm and distracted. Avoid using cotton swabs or anything with a pointed tip, as these can damage your dog’s ear canal.

2: Examine Your Dog’s Ears

Before you start cleaning, take a moment to examine your dog’s ears. Look for any signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be a sign of an ear infection, and you should take your dog to the vet for evaluation.

dog with really big ears

Ear-Related Issues

Dogs can have various ear-related issues, including:

  • Ear infections: Dogs are susceptible to ear infections, which can be caused by bacteria, yeast, or fungi. Symptoms of an ear infection include redness, swelling, discharge, and odor.
  • Ear mites: Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal and feed on ear wax and skin oils. They can cause irritation, itching, and inflammation in the ear canal.
  • Ear trauma: Dogs can suffer from ear trauma due to accidents, fights, or excessive scratching. Trauma can cause cuts, bruises, or hematomas in the ear flap or ear canal.
  • Allergies: Some dogs are allergic to environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust, or mold. Allergic reactions can cause inflammation, itching, and discomfort in the ears.
  • Ear tumors: Dogs can develop tumors in the ear canal or ear flap. Symptoms may include swelling, discharge, and a foul odor.

3: Apply the Ear Cleaning Solution

Once you’ve gathered your supplies and examined your dog’s ears, it’s time to start cleaning. Begin by applying a small amount of the ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball or gauze. Gently lift your dog’s ear flap and insert the cotton ball into the ear canal. Be sure not to push the cotton ball too far into the ear, as this can cause discomfort.

4: Massage the Ear

With the cotton ball in place, gently massage the base of your dog’s ear for 20-30 seconds. This will help distribute the ear cleaning solution and loosen any debris or wax buildup in the ear canal.

happy dog

5: Remove the Cotton Ball

After you’ve massaged the ear, remove the cotton ball from your dog’s ear. You may notice some debris or wax on the cotton ball. This is normal, but if you notice a lot of debris or an unusual odor, it may be a sign of an infection, and you should contact your vet.

6: Repeat on the Other Ear

Repeat the process on your dog’s other ear, using a fresh cotton ball and ear cleaning solution. Be sure to use a separate cotton ball for each ear to avoid cross-contamination.

7: Reward Your Dog

After you’ve finished cleaning your dog’s ears, be sure to reward them with treats and praise. This will help make the experience more positive and help your dog associate ear cleaning with a positive experience.

8: Tips for Safe Ear Cleaning

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when cleaning your dog’s ears:

  • Only clean the visible parts of your dog’s ear. Do not insert anything into the ear canal, as this can cause injury or infection.
  • If your dog is resistant to having their ears cleaned, try offering treats or distracting them with a toy or game.
  • If you notice any signs of an ear infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge, contact your vet for evaluation and treatment.
  • Avoid using homemade ear cleaning solutions, as these can be harsh and may cause irritation or damage to your dog’s ears

Dog Breeds Prone to Ear Issues

All dogs can develop ear issues, but some breeds are more prone to certain types of ear problems due to their anatomy, hair growth patterns, or other factors. Breeds that are known to be predisposed to ear issues include:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Shar Pei
  • Poodle
  • Schnauzer
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Shih Tzu


Cleaning your dog’s ears is an important part of their grooming routine, but it’s important to do it safely and effectively. Gather your supplies, examine your dog’s ears, apply the ear cleaning solution, massage the ear, and remove the cotton ball. Be sure to reward your dog with treats and praise for a positive experience. With these tips, you can help keep your dog’s ears clean and healthy.


Reviewed by: Tim Winter

Tim Winter has dedicated his writing and research efforts to animals and wildlife. He explores the globe and sees firsthand the negative impact humans have on the environment. Tim is dedicated to promoting responsible environmental stewardship. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.