How to clean a dog’s ear

How to clean a dog's ears
Written by The Best of Breeds

Do you struggle with cleaning your dog’s ears and eyes? Is your dog potentially suffering from ear infections? Are you worried about the production of foul smell from the ears of your dog? These can be a symptom that your dog’s ears require a thorough cleaning. But excessive cleaning of these parts can also lead to the development of many infections. 

When you become a dog owner, you find that your dog quickly becomes a big part of your life, both from an emotional and a time perspective. At the end of a long day, those wagging tails and wet nose tend to soothe our daily battles. These little creatures fill our lives with love and happiness. But, the real challenge kicks in when they suffer from any sort of health problems such as an ear infection. 

The nose, tongue and ears of dogs are far more sensitive than what we have as humans. Through these, our dogs are able to perceive more about the world than we could ever, imagine being able to know who walked the same way as you a few hours ago. These senses build the world around them in their minds and become an integral part of them.

Hence, infections in any of these parts can leave them with a greatly reduced sense of the world around them. Imagine one day losing your sense of hearing, how differently would you perceive the world around you. It is therefore paramount that we look after our dogs to ensure their senses continue to allow them to enjoy the world they live in.

To combat such situations, it is essential to maintain complete hygiene of out little friends. One of the problematic parts of the dog, which requires proper cleaning, is its ears. If not taken proper care, many dogs can end up getting ear infections and sometimes losing their hearing ability. But, before we look at the methods for cleaning the ears, let us talk about the essential things to do to get prepared:

How to clean a dog's ears

What Are the Right Tools Used for Cleaning the Dog’s Ears?

Before you begin it is important to get everything you need together. 

Cotton balls. These are one of the best things for cleaning your dog’s ears with. While you may be tempted to use cotton swabs please don’t, while many people use them on themselves to clean their ears your dog can’t let you know if it’s starting to get uncomfortable. By the time they let you know they may do so abruptly, which results in you hurting your dog, which no one wants to do.

A bowl of water. During the cleaning of your dog’s ears you’re going to want to dampen the cotton balls to help remove dirt and wax. You can purchase solutions to add to this to help with the cleaning but at the very minimum you should have a bowl of water. If you decide to use a solution make sure to follow the instructions, you don’t want to use an overly concentrated solution on your dog’s ears as it may cause a reaction.

Gloves. One of the reasons that we are cleaning our dogs ears is to remove dirt and grime, which are great places for bacteria to grow. While we like to think that our hands are clean they actually tend to be regularly exposed to surfaces that aren’t clean, for example think about how many people have used that door handle at work. At the very least you should be giving your hands a really good wash before and after cleaning your dogs ears, though some people prefer to use disposable gloves that they can put on before and throw away afterwards. 

The first and essential thing to do before cleaning the ears would include the preparation procedure. You need to be aware of the little things that can help you to clean those sense organs without any hassles. One of the first things that you need to arrange would be the cotton balls. 

Do You Have the Treats Ready for The Babies?

Every dog parent is well aware of the importance of treats in his/her dogs’ lives. We all know how essential it is to reward them for their good behavior. So why skip that part while cleaning his body parts? 

Many dogs fear to get themselves clean because of pain or some other traumatic memories. In case your dog also has been through such phases, it is essential to identify such an attitude too. Whether they like cleaning or not, always get some treats ready to pamper them during the process. It will help them to focus as well as control their temper during the same. 

In case you are not much into synthetic treats, you can prepare them in your kitchen. You know your pet’s food preferences. So, make sure to include those options while preparing the delicacies for your babies. A little treat or a pat on the back would help them relax during the ear cleaning process.

How to Carry Out the Cleaning Procedure?

Once you are entirely set with the essentials, you are ready to begin the ear cleaning procedure. Here is a step-wise guide for cleaning the ears of your little pooches:

Make Him Feel Comfortable

The first thing to do is to make sure that your dog is comfortable. Even if you are visiting the vet, you need to make sure that he/she is comfortable with the atmosphere. In the case of a senior or rescued dog, this step is crucial as it can trigger many kinds of reactions from them. In many instances, it might turn into a problematic situation for the dog. Hence, you need to look out for the comfort for the fur baby to get the maximum benefit out of this cleaning process.

Even if your dog is not a rescue then you should still be careful. As mentioned earlier, if your dog fidgets or moves abruptly then you may end up accidentally hurting them while cleaning their ears. Even if you only cause them a small amount of discomfort this may make it harder for you to clean their ears in future.

Get the Essentials Ready

Make sure to have the treats and the cotton balls to hand for the process. Also, if you are using specific prescribed solutions, never pour it directly in the ears. Such incidents can trigger abrupt movements as the solution can cause discomfort or even damage to the ears. Imagine how you would feel if someone was to randomly pour a liquid in your ear.

Check for Ear Infections

Once you are ready with the essentials, it is time to look inside the ear for any sort of ear infection. Ear infections are one of the more common problems for dogs to experience, this is partially caused by how many breeds have ears that can create a covered area. Lift the ear and gently take it between the forefinger and the thumb. Take a good look at the interior portion of the ear and smell it. 

You need to check for redness, a foul smell coming from the ears or even the presence of discharge. You might see the presence of a small amount of light-colored wax within the ear. That is normal as this ear wax protects the inner layer of the ear. If you see the ears have reddening or presence of pus, it is time to consult the vet, who should be able to tell you if it is an ear infection and provide treatment if it is.

Clean the Outer Parts

Once you are sure about the condition of the ears, you need to start cleaning the outer portions of the ears. The outer portion tends to accumulate a lot of wax or dirt. So, dampen a cotton ball and gently wipe around the outer portion to get rid of the wax and dirt. 

Proceed to the Interior Region

Once you have cleaned the outer part of the ear, it is time to proceed to the interior part as well. Dampen another cotton ball with the ear cleaning solution and gently insert it within the ear. But make sure not to force the cotton ball too into the ear as that can be harmful to the dog. Once you have reached the ear canal, gently squeeze the ball and drop a small amount of the cleaning solution in the ear. 

While doing so, keep track of the reactions of your little one. In case he makes a sound, or gives you a signal, make sure to stop right there. Take it slowly to ensure they are comfortable throughout. Once done, keep on massaging the ear to make sure that the cleaner passes well into the ear canal. Also, wipe away if there is any excess amount of cleaner around the ear with a clean damp cotton ball.

You can repeat the entire process for the other ear. While doing these, make sure to converse a little with the dog and motivate them with treats. Let them know how good they have been throughout the process and how proud you are about their behavior.

Once done, take a clean damp cotton ball and gently wipe the ears again to clean them properly. When you’re wiping, make sure to wipe from the inner to outer ear to take any dirt away. In case you have any particular ear drop for your baby, wait for a few minutes. Make sure to apply the medicine after some time so that it gets adequately absorbed by the ear. 

That will, ensure that the medicine enters the ear correctly and be absorbed too. Also, keep track of whether the medication is stuck on the ear wax. If such a thing happens, make sure to pay a visit to the vet. 

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

As cleaning your dog is an important part of their care people have lost of questions about the right way to do it. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cleaning you dog’s ears:

How Often Can One Clean the Dog’s Ears?

The general regularity tends to depend on the pet. You need to keep track of the accumulation of dirt and wax within the ear. Some of the factors that determine the schedule of the ear cleaning process are:

  • Breed of the dog
  • Age of the dog
  • Coat
  • Level of activity
  • Rate of ear wax production

As a minimum you should be looking to clean their ears at least once every month. But the frequency might change depending on the factors mentioned above. Your vet should be able to guide you about how frequently you should be cleaning your dogs ears and if you’re nervous they can even show you how to do it.

Can I Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean the Ears of My Dog?

You should never use hydrogen peroxide in the ears. Hydrogen peroxide is a harsh chemical that can trigger irritation within the interior part of the ears. The ears are sensitive tissue, which can be severely damaged with the application of something as harsh as hydrogen peroxide.

Why Do the Dog’s Ears Keep Getting Dirty?

There can be many potential reasons as to why your dog’s ears keep getting dirty. If the dog is extremely active and roams around the garden area, there is a chance of accumulation of dirt in the ears. Also, the age and the coat of the dog determine the amount of deposition of dirt within the ears. It is completely expected that your dog’s ears will get dirty and need cleaning.

What Are the Things to Avoid When It Comes to Cleaning the Dog’s Ears?

Some of the essential things to avoid for your dog’s ears would be:

  • Vinegar
  • Alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Any harsh chemicals

You can use a mild cleanser as prescribed by the doctor to clear the dog’s ears.

What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infection in Dogs?

Some of the primary symptoms of ear infection in dogs are:

  1. Continuous scratching of the area around the ear
  2. Presence of brown, yellow discharge with blood
  3. Presence of foul odor in the ear
  4. Inflammation of the interior region of the ear which causes the reddening of the same
  5. Presence of scabs on the outer region of the ear
  6. Loss of hair around the ear
  7. Walking in circular patterns
  8. Loss in hearing
  9. Increase in frequency for tilting head or head shaking
  10. Presence of unusual eye movements
  11. Loss of body balance
  12. Itchiness and pain in the ear region

In case you see any of these symptoms in your dogs, make sure to consult the vet immediately.

What are the Causes Behind the Ear Infections in Dogs?

The ear canal of the dogs is quite different from that of humans. The channel is more vertical, which forms the shape of the English alphabet L, which can hold some fluid. As a result of such a feature, the dog’s ears are more prone to getting infections. 

The ear infections occur due to the accumulation of earwax, dirt, bacterial infection, yeast etc. In the case of the little pups, the source of infection can also be the presence of mites in the ears. Here are some of the causes of ear infection in dogs:

  • Presence of moisture in the atmosphere that leads to the development of yeast and bacteria in the ear
  • Allergies
  • Endocrine disorders like thyroid disease
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Accumulation of earwax
  • Actions of the foreign bodies
  • Injury to the internal parts of the ear
  • Excessive cleaning
  • Application of harmful chemicals

Make sure to be aware of these, causing agents to keep a check on ear infection in your little fur babies.