How to clean your dog's ears
Does your dog have problems with its ears and have you been advised to clean them? Here are some tips and advice on how to do it safely and effectively!
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There are many reasons you might want or need to clean your dog’s ears, either due to an ear problem or even an ear infection for which the vet recommended frequent cleaning. Whatever the reason, the process is exactly the same.
What to do before cleaning the ears
Your dog might need its ears cleaned repeatedly, so it’s a very good idea to try and make it as enjoyable an experience as possible for them.
Use a good quality, oil-based cleaner. Water-based cleaners do not dissolve the wax, which is greasy and doesn’t mix with water well, and only add unnecessary moisture to the ear, predisposing it towards an ear infection.
Most UK vets use in practice and recommend their clients the following brands (in alphabetical order): CleanAural, EpiOtic, Otoact and Sonotix. Because they do not contain medication, you can get these online or from your vet practice without a prescription.
It’s a good idea to do this in a room where it does not matter if splashes land on the walls when the dog shakes their head, such as the bathroom.
Ask a second person to help you, preferably someone your dog likes. They will have to loosely hold the dog in place and offer the dog a reward now and then, while you clean the ears.
How exactly to clean them
Proceed in the following order:
gently lift and hold the ear flap upwards,
fill the ear canal with the ear cleaning solution,
holding the ear flap with one hand, gently massage the base of the ear with the other hand for 4-5 minutes,
(The vertical part of the ear canal can easily be felt as a firm, slightly compressible tube under the skin. The massaging movement is important for spreading the ear cleaner around the ear canal and dissolving the wax.)
carefully wipe away as much as possible of the dirty cleaner and debris that comes out of the ear canal with a soft, absorbable cloth or paper towel,
(Do not use cotton buds for this step as they only push the dirt deeper in the ear canal.)
release the ear flap.
(Please be aware that your dog will probably vigorously shake their head at this point, spraying cleaner everywhere.)
Give your dog a short break and a lot of praise before switching to the other ear. If you think a second ear cleaning would be too much for them, you can leave it for later.
Finish by washing your hands. Do not forget to clean the nozzle of the ear cleaner bottle as well. If possible, avoid touching the dog’s ear with it to prevent contamination of the cleaner with bacteria or yeasts. An option is to pour some cleaner in a small recipient and use single-use syringes to get it into the dog’s ear(s).
How often should you clean the ears
If you got your ear cleaner from the vet, they will advise you how often and for how long to clean the ear(s), based on what they saw in your dog’s ear(s) and what are the possible underlying factors causing the waxiness.
If you have noticed the waxiness and are trying to prevent an infection, then use the following schedule.
Start by cleaning the ear(s) once daily for 4-5 days. After this you would either notice a considerable improvement or none, in which case you need to see your vet.
If the ears are obviously cleaner and calmer, continue cleaning them but gradually increase the intervals between the cleanings, adding a day or two to them, until they become unnecessary. As mentioned in the article on ear infections, the ear has a natural self-cleaning mechanism and the goal is to allow it to restore itself.
For other ear-related questions, feel free to use the button to the right of this article to book a video call with one of our vets!