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​How can I clean my dog’s ears?

​How can I clean my dog’s ears?

Maybe during your recent cuddle session with your pup, you realised that their ears are looking a little dirty. And that’s perfectly normal. With all of the fun things that your dog does, from diving into water to getting slobbered on by other puppers, it’s no wonder that there would be some leftover gunk from a day well-spent.

But, without a little bit of help from their doting Dog Owners, our pups are at risk of ear infections and parasites like ear mites. In this article, we’re going to teach you how to clean dog ears so that your pup can continue to romp and roll with clean, healthy ears!

The basics of how to care for dog ears

Keeping your dog’s ears clean is an important grooming task to prevent infections. It also gives you a chance to monitor your dog for signs of parasites which might not be present or visible in other areas of the body. So, what does proper checking and cleaning look like?

Well, about once per week, you’re going to want to take a peek in your dog’s ears. Make sure you’re in a well-lit room or that you can shine a light in the ear canal to get a closer look.

If your dog’s ears are odourless, pink in colour, and free of any debris or oily buildup, then congratulations! Your pup has clean, healthy ears that don’t need to be cleaned at this time.

If you notice that your dog does have some excess wax or dirt, here’s what you can do:

  • Gather your supplies: dog ear cleaner (we’ll talk more about some of the best ones available), sterile cotton balls or squares, and a clean towel
  • Lead your dog into an area that you don’t mind getting a little wet as your dog may want to shake.
  • Wash your hands
  • Apply the dog ear cleaner to the ear canal as instructed on the product label
  • Using a gentle massage technique around the base of the ears, allow the product to swish around in the ear canal to break up dirt and grime
  • Allow your dog the chance to shake if they choose
  • Use the cotton ball or square to wipe out the cleaning solution from their ears. Don’t be too forceful with this step, as it could push dirt further into the ear canal or create a negative experience for your dog
  • Wipe your pup down with the clean towel and release them! Don’t be surprised if your pup gets a case of the zoomies after an ear cleaning session.

What to look out for during your ear cleaning session

Now that you know the basics of how to clean your dog’s ears regularly, what are some of the signs that not everything is on the up and up in the ear canal?

Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Ear sensitivity. We’ll talk more later about what to do if your dog is uncomfortable with having their ears cleaned, which is a perfectly normal response. But, if your dog shows signs of pain and distress when you touch their ears, that could be a sign of a medical issue. In this case we recommend you contact your vet.
  • Signs of ear mites. Ear mites are so small that you’re not likely to be able to see them, but you will probably notice some of the signs of this parasite, such as dark discharge coming from the ear canal.
  • A bad odour. Unpleasant odours can be the result of a yeast infection, mite infestation, infection or other problem in the ear canal. If you notice a bad smell, then we recommend you contact your vet.
  • Redness and inflammation. Similar to bad odours, if your dog’s ears are red and inflamed, there’s likely something wrong, and you should also contact your vet.

If you notice any of these symptoms, then it’s probably a good idea to get your dog in for a vet visit as soon as possible. Your vet will be able to determine what is going on in the ear canal and recommend a number of treatment options.

Are some dogs more prone to ear problems than others?

Dogs with floppy, drop, or folded ears are at highest risk for ear problems such as infections, as the lack of air flow can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

If you have a dog in the high risk category, including Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Labrador Retrievers, take a few moments throughout the week to check in on those ear canals. It’s also recommended to gently wipe them down with a dry, clean towel after water play and heavy exercise.

What are the best ear care products for dogs?

When it comes to ear health, it’s never recommended that you use a DIY cleaning solution, as some household products like alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can irritate the ear further.

Browse the range of ear care for dogs on Pet Chemist Online.

What if your dog refuses to let you touch their ears?

It’s quite common for dogs to become wiggly and uncomfortable when you try to clean their ears. So, it’s a good idea to take a few extra steps to make them feel safe and relaxed while completing this important grooming task:

  • Choose a time when your dog is calm. Ideally, you’ll want your ear cleaning session to take place after exercise, when your dog is nice and relaxed.
  • Entice them with tasty treats. Your dog may already have a negative association with ear cleaning, but you can counter it with delicious rewards.
  • Allow them to sniff the ear cleaning solution bottle. Having an unknown object around a sensitive part of the body can cause some dogs to panic. So, give them a moment to become familiar with the bottle before you apply the cleaning product.
  • Don’t hold them down or force them. Often, the scariest thing about ear cleaning for a dog is feeling trapped and held while you apply the product. While you do want to have control over your dog so that the product doesn’t accidently get in their eyes or mouth, don’t apply too much force or pressure. Take it slow and take a break between ears if you need to.
  • Offer plenty of reassurance. A bad ear cleaning session can be a negative experience for both Owner and dog. But remember that your dog will feed off of your energy. Try talking gently through the process, which will not only create a relaxing environment for your pup, but is likely to keep you calm, as well!
  • Allow them to shake their ears as they wish. Head shaking is a natural stress-relieving instinct that your pup may not have much control over. It also has an added benefit of loosening dirt and wax in the ear canal. So, allow them to shake away!
  • Give them plenty of praise when you’re all finished. Don’t forget to pat Fido on the back when you’re all done with your grooming session. Even though there might have been challenging moments, you got through it! It’s time for some cuddles or a play session.
  • Stay consistent. If you can make ear cleaning a regular practice, your pup will become more accustomed to it. So, stay consistent, practice touching your dog’s ears between cleanings, and always have a positive attitude during your ear cleaning sessions.

Now you know how to care for dogs ears!

Keeping your dog’s ears clean can be an uncomfortable task. But it’s an important part of their overall grooming routine! Now that you know how to clean dog ears, your pupper will have the best looking ear canals at the dog park, even after rolling in the dirt, mud, and who knows what else!


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