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How to Clean your Dog’s Ears

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There are a lot things to do as a new dog parent to start your puppy or dog off on the right paw. The one area that you should start working on today is learning how to clean your dog’s ears. It will take some time for you and your puppy or dog to get use to it, but starting the process is important even if it means just touching or looking in your dog’s ears.

I wanted to write a blog post to show you how cleaning your dog’s ears can be easy to fit into your new routine. I am a big believer in prevention, especially with your puppy or dog, and knowing what is normal and when your dog could be developing an ear infection will help you both.

Why You Should Clean Your Dog’s Ears

It may not be a glamorous part of caring for your dog or puppy but cleaning their ears is important. It will give you a visual on what normal, healthy ears should look like. Moreover, cleaning them once a week will give you another way to notice if your dog is developing an ear infection and stop it from getting worse.

Another great reason to clean your dog’s ears is getting he/she use to their ears being touched. Sometimes we are so caught up in the fun stuff of having a dog or puppy, that we can overlook the dog care that can easily become part of your routine with your dog.

Symptoms of Ear Infection in a Dog

  • Odor in the ear.
  • Scratching of the ear or area around the ear
  • Redness in the ear
  • Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
  • Head shaking or head tilt
  • Loss of balance
  • Crust or scabs on inside of the outer ear

If these symptoms are noticed then a call to your veterinarian for an appointment needs to happen immediately to help your dog and makes the ear infection not become worse.

Are you prepared for your next dog walk?

  • Checklist of the supplies you need for your walk with examples of each
  • High value and low value dog treat examples
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Things You Will Need:

The supplies I will be sharing below will be helpful to have on hand and to keep stocked up on them to make it easier to add this important dog care into your everyday routine with your dog.

I would choose a time each day that you can add to your schedule on your phone or planner to make it as easy for you to remember to do it.

I would recommend having two portable containers of these supplies to keep in your house that are easy to access depending on what is the best location for you and your dog to do the ear cleaning.

1.) Towels

I think having a couple towels to lay them on the floor as well as around your dog could help minimize the mess. Cleaning your dog’s ears can get messy especially if your dog shakes his/her head.

Ariv Collection Premium Bamboo Cotton Towels

2.) Ear cleaning supplies-cotton balls, tissue, ear cleanser

I would ask your veterinarian as well what ear cleanser they would recommend just to make sure you use the right one).

White Dove Cotton Balls


Ear Cleanser– You should ask your veterinarian what they recommend as each dog can be different.  I have used Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced for several of my clients. However, I still want you to call your veterinarian to make sure this ear cleanser is okay to use for your dog. 

3.) Treats– I would choose ones that your dog loves and that you only use when cleaning your dog’s ears to make it a positive experience.

A couple treats I like are Zuke’s Mini Naturals Chicken Recipe (they have other flavors too that your dog may like), Natural Balance Roll (you can cut this roll into small pieces which will make them last longer), and Pet Botanics Training Rewards Beef Flavor Treats.

4.) Location– like a bathroom with a door so your dog cannot run out.

5.) Leash- having your dog on a leash can help you guide them into the bathroom or other location and they cannot just run away.

**Always remember to keep the experience positive with your dog. **

6.) Time- make sure when you decide to start cleaning your ears that you are not in a hurry and go slow as well.

7.) Patience- it is important to remember it takes time to do anything new with your puppy or dog. Have a positive tone in your voice and go slow.

8.) Garbage bag- having a garbage bag on hand will help to keep things from getting too messy. I would just have a bag of them where you will be doing the ear cleaning.

9.) Medical Gloves Cleaning your dog’s ears can be messy and wearing gloves may be a better option. Especially, if you get the ear cleanser or ear wax on your hands. I like to keep things as clean as possible.

10.) Ziploc Bags– Another item to keep everything organized with the supplies to clean your dog’s ears. Plus you can make a couple of them and have a supply that will save you time as it is all ready to grab and go. 

Steps To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Step 1: Get all your supplies together before going to get your dog to start the whole ear process.

Step 2: Make sure you have some high value treats ready to give to your dog as you start touching and cleanin the ears.

Step 3: Start touching your dog’s ears (if he/she is okay with it then try doing it for 30 seconds).

Step 4: Hold your dog’s ear up or if you can flip it over to see the inside of the ear that would be better.

Step 5: Squirt some of the cleanser down your dog’ ear.

Step 6: Massage the ear on the outside to make sure the cleanser gets Dow then ear canal (20-30 seconds).

Step 7: Lift or flip the ear over (if your dog has a floppy ear) and have one of the cotton balls in your hand and wipe off the cleanser. You may see some ear wax (it will look brown to you) and make sure you wipe as much of it out of the ear ( but do not over do it if your dog is not liking it).

Step 8: Repeat the same steps on the other ear and notice which one may have more ear wax than the other.

Benefits of Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

I hope having a list as well as the steps will make this easier for you to try cleaning your dog’s ears. A lot of times you will feel overwhelmed when starting to incorporate ear cleaning with your dog. However, there are several benefits to doing it yourself:

  • Building a stronger bond with your dog.
  • Being able to notice when a ear infection is developing with your dog.
  • Saving money by being on top of your dog’s ear care.

I want you to remember that there is a learning curve for anything and especially with dog care and ears. If you have no experience and you are a new dog parent (puppy or dog) the sooner you test the waters and make ear cleaning a routine like feeding, walks, and bathroom breaks, life will go better for both of you.

Also, the one benefit that is not always as obvious with ear cleaning is the way it can build a better bond with your dog. 

Related: Three Simple Ways to Build a Better Bond With Your Dog

Moreover, as you get the ear cleaning routine going with your dog it will be less stressful and it will take less time to do it well.

Furthermore, your dog will see it as a positive thing to have his/her ears touched and we want your dog to be okay with it. Finally, catching an ear infection early will help you, your dog, and make treating it easier too.

Over the years of checking my clients dogs ears, I have been able to give them a heads up as well as show them how ear cleaning can become part of their routine.

Therefore, they are not imitated or feel it is time consuming because I show them how it is done the right way. I hope you feel this way after reading this post.

Please let me know if this blog post was helpful or if you have any suggestions by leaving a comment. 

Finally, I created an Ear Cleaning Checklist to be a quick resource to use while cleaning your dog’s ears.

how to clean your dog's ears step-by-step


Access powerful resources to enjoy spending time with your dog and never be embarrassed by their behavior again:


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