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How to Clean Dogs' Ears: Is It Important?

Updated by Sheryl on Jul 22, 2021

Some dogs don't need to get their ears cleaned very often or at all. Other dogs' external ear canals may build wax and debris, necessitating regular ear cleaning at home. This might be due to their breed (ear canal hair, ear shape), medical issues (allergies) or way of life (swimming). Ear cleaning is an essential element of your dog's grooming routine. Some dogs require ear cleaning more frequently than others. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if it is essential for your dog.

dog is bathing the sunshine

There's no straight answer; it totally depends on your dog. While it is vital to clean your dog's ears as needed, excessive washing can create ear canal irritation, which in turn, can lead to infection. Some dogs may never require ear cleaning if their ears are healthy and clean.

Material lodged deep within the horizontal canal of the dog's ear canal is difficult to discharge without the help of cleanings due to the nature of the ear canal. If not removed, this substance can cause itching and ear infections.

Cleaning your dog's ears is advised if you observe discharge or a smell when inspecting the ear. Your veterinarian can advise you on how often you should clean your dog's ears. Consult your veterinarian before cleaning your dog's ears if they are reddish, swollen, or sore. It's possible that your dog has an ear infection.

How often you need to clean your furry friend's ears is directly dependent on the breed, type of ear, health status and how clean it is. If your dog is a breed with long, flapping and hanging ears, it would be best to clean its ear as often as once a week. Long-eared dogs tend to accumulate more dust, dirt and debris in their ears. But if the ears are short, once in a fortnight should do. Dogs with short ears do not usually accommodate dirt in their ears.

white dog ears

Before going ahead to attempt to clean your dog's ears, you should consider the health status of your puppy. If your dog is feeling sick, you should suspend cleaning its ears. Treating their underlying sicknesses first would be the best thing to do before resuming.

To clean your dog's ears effectively, you need ear wipes and ear cleaners specially made for dogs. These are very important. Got them? Then you are ready to go!

Ear Cleaning: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Seated on the floor, situate your dog in front of you, his back end between your legs. If you have a large breed dog, place him such that his back end is in the corner of the room and one side is against the wall. Next, position yourself on the other side of him.
  • Grasp one ear and lift the ear flap (pinna) vertically to expose the ear canal and assist in straightening it out.
  • Clutch the ear cleaning solution with one hand while softly yet firmly grasping your dog's ear flap with your other hand.
  • Squeeze a little ear cleaner into your dog's ear. Fill the ear canal with enough cleanser to completely fill it. If some of the cleaner leaks into the ear canal, that's ok. DO NOT insert the bottle's tip into your dog's ear. To avoid the spread of germs or yeast, wipe the top of the bottle with a clean cotton ball soaked in alcohol if it comes into contact with your dog's ear.
  • Keep holding the ear flap vertically in one hand while massaging the base of the ear below the ear entrance with the other hand for about thirty seconds. The cleaning solution will be able to break up the dirt in the ear canal as a result. As the cleaning solution goes about in the horizontal region of the ear canal, you should hear a 'squishing' sound.

the dog is taking a bath

  • Wipe debris from the inside section of the ear flap and the upper ear canal using a cotton ball or gauze while still keeping the ear flap up.
  • Allow your dog to wag his tail and shake his head. This permits any leftover ear cleaning solution and dirt from the ear canal to drain into the ear's outer aperture.
  • Hold the ear flap up again, and use a cotton ball or gauze to remove the loosened debris and cleaning solution from the outer aperture of the ear canal.
  • With a cotton ball or gauze, remove any debris and residual cleaning solution from the ear canal; just go as far as your finger can reach.
  • To remove the solution from the ear canal, NEVER use a cotton-tipped applicator. This can cause damage to the ear canal and eardrum and push particles deeper into the ear canal.
  • Give your dog some treats after finishing with the first ear.
  • Carry on with the opposite ear in the same manner.
  • Stop and visit your veterinarian if your dog looks to be in discomfort throughout the cleaning process.
  • Repeat the cleaning technique as often as your veterinarian suggests.

The simple answer is no. It is not every dog that requires ear cleaning. Many dogs have self-cleansing ears, so you do not have to bother yourself. In the same vein, some dogs are very neat, so much that they never get their ears covered in dirt. If your dog stays indoors every time, there would most likely be no reason for you to clean their ears since they do not go out where they can get dirty.

On the other hand, some dogs require frequent cleaning of their eyes. Anyhow, it totally depends on the breed of dog you have. By all means, consult your veterinarian for expert advice when you are not sure.

What is the brown stuff in my dog's ears?

If there's brown stuff in your dog's ears, it is most likely earwax. Earwax forms in dogs' ears much as it does in humans; it's how the ears clean themselves against pollen, dirt, and debris. The normal color of dog ear wax is pale yellow to light brown. Keep in mind that if there is dirt in the ear, the wax will seem darker.

Should I clean inside my dog's ears?

No. Do not clean inside your dog's ears as you will hurt them or even push the dirt further inside. Cleaning the outer part of the ear is enough to keep your dog healthy. Your vet should handle cleaning the inner part where it becomes necessary.

What happens if you don't clean your dog's ears?

For dogs that do not require ear cleansing, nothing will happen. But in the case of dogs that need frequent ear cleansing, dirt will accumulate in their ear canals. If left untreated for a long period, the dirt may cause infections.

How to clean a dog's ears with infection?

Make a half-and-half solution using apple cider vinegar and distilled water. To get the fluid inside the ear, a solution or syringe container will have a protruding tip. Cotton swabs should NOT be used in your dog's ears in any case.

In conclusion, not all dogs require periodic ear cleaning. However, when they do, selecting the correct cleanser is critical to avoiding damage while attempting to accomplish good. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is suffering from ear disease or if you suspect anything abnormal. Remember that your dog's ears are as individual as they are, and the recommendations will be as well!

Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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