How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Written by: Milica Brzakovic
It's important to clean your dog's ears regularly in order to keep them healthy. Read this article and learn how to do it as easy and smoothly as possible.

It’s your responsibility as a dog owner to keep your dog happy and healthy.

This includes taking care of your dog’s hygiene – which includes cleaning the dog’s ears.

So, how do you do that the best and easiest way possible?

All dogs have ears that need to be cleaned, but some need it more than others. This is especially the case with dogs who have long, floppy ears. So, if your dog needs to have its ears cleaned often, you probably want to learn how to do it on your own at home. That’s what this article will teach you.

But first, let’s explain why this is such an important thing to do!

Why Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

The longer ears a dog has, the longer are its ear canals. The length of the ear canals are in general from 5-10 cm long and they’re usually right-angled. In other words, this makes it easy for material to go in, but difficult to get out. So, if your dog gets water in its ears, the water can get stuck in the ear canal and result in an ear infection.

This is where you come in! You should always clean your dog’s ears after swimming in order to prevent any infections. Cleaning your dog’s ears is also important if your dog has skin allergies or if he’s prone to ear infections. Finally, by cleaning your dog’s ears you’re checking for tics and fleas at the same time and keeping your dog healthy.

The bottom line is – dogs have sensitive ears and they need regular maintenance in order to prevent infections.

How Often Should I Clean The Ears?

This largely depends on the dog breed, more precisely its ears, and on the life style – whether your dog is active or not, spends time in nature a lot, swims often etc. That doesn’t mean that less active dogs shouldn’t have their ears cleaned, maybe they just don’t need it as often as some more active dogs.

As a general rule, you should clean your dog’s ears at least once a month, but no more than once a week.

Tips Before Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Surprise! Dogs don’t want to have their ears cleaned! So, before we get to the actual technical process, check out the following tips:

1. Keep It Positive

If you don’t want your dog to sabotage the cleaning process, you have to try to make it as positive as possible. So, start slowly and be patient. A great tip is to associate ear-cleaning with something positive and what better way to achieve that than with treats?

2. Get The Right Equipment

You should always make sure you’re using the right tools. For this particular “intervention”, you will need:

  • Cotton balls or gauze
  • Ear rinse, without antibiotics, steroids, alcohol or toxic materials
  • Gloves (optional)

Remember – never use cotton swabs! Not only would it take much longer time to clean the ears, but they can be dangerous as it can get stuck in the dog’s ear canal.

3. Prepare In Advance

By this we mean that you should prepare the equipment beforehand and put everything you’ll need where you can reach it. If you leave in the middle of the cleaning process to get what you’ve forgotten, chances of your dog waiting calmly for you to get back are very slim. So, double-check that you have everything before you start. Also, choose a practical place where you’ll clean your dog’s ears – somewhere you have enough space and where your dog feels comfortable.

4. Do It Right

It’s really important to clean your dog’s ears, but it’s even more important to do it right! If you don’t do it as it should be done, you can cause serious damage. So, this leads us to our next section…Scroll down and learn how to clean your dog’s ears the right way!

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears Step By Step

  • Step 1: Dip the cotton ball in the ear rinse. Make sure the ball is wet but not dripping. You can also use gauze around your finger, but never a Q-tip!
  • Step 2: Clean the inside of the ear. Do it gently and remove all dirt and debris you see. Use as many cotton balls you need and take if easy.
  • Step 3: Drench the ear canal (if recommended). This should only be done if you vet advises you to do so, if the ears are really dirty. In order to do that, pout the ear rinse inside the ear flap and fill the ear canal with the liquid. Massage the ear very carefully for 60 seconds and clean out whatever comes out of the ear with cotton.
  • Step 4: Let your dog shake his head. This is the dog’s natural way of clearing its ears and it will help get red of any excess liquid. After that, wipe the ears one last time with cotton or gauze.

Check out the video below and see how it’s done!

When Not To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Cleaning the ears won’t be good in every situation. Furthermore, it can even be harmful in some situations. So, here’s when you shouldn’t clean your dog’s ears, but contact your vet instead:

  • You shouldn’t clean the ear in every case, which is why you have to inspect the ears before you start. Look for fluid from the ear, waxy material, scratches, wounds etc. If you notice anything like this don’t clean the ear, but contact your vet and ask for advise.
  • Look for parasites. The ears are a great place for mites, ticks and fleas to hide. This can be treated and prevented, but don’t do anything before consulting with your vet. Apart from parasites, you can also find various foreign bodies in your dog’s ear – grass, seeds, pebbles etc. If notice something like this, try to remove the object or clean the ear in order to remove them. If it doesn’t work, take your dog to the vet.
  • Check for infections. It’s possible for dogs to have yeast or bacterial infections. Yeast infections smell badly and create a brown discharge. If you suspect that that’s what your dog has, don’t clean the ear as it will only make the condition worse. Bacterial infections can’t be fixed with cleaning either and they require veterinary care.


Cleaning your dog’s ears is really important in order to prevent infections and other complications. The general rule is to do it at least once a month, but no more than once a week. However, the exact need depends on your dog, so you should always consult with your vet about the appropriate amount.

You will need ear rinse, cotton balls and gloves, if you want, in order to clear the dog’s ears. It’s also important to be patient and create a positive atmosphere, as dogs don’t exactly love having their ears cleaned. This is where treats come in!

Follow the steps in this article and it will get easier every following time. Just remember that cleaning the ears won’t always be a good way to go, so if you notice anything out of the ordinary consult with your vet. Keeping your dog healthy and clean is your responsibility and cleaning its ears is an important segment!