Pet Parenting

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Have you noticed your dog excessively scratching or a strange odor coming from their ears? It may be time to clean their ears.

basset hound ears lifted

Article Highlights

  • Know when it is time to clean.

  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best cleaner for your dog.

  • Follow the steps to gently and safely clean their ears.

Know When to Clean

Before cleaning your dog’s ears, it is important to know what a healthy ear looks like. Healthy dog ears are light pink, odorless, and clean. If you notice an odor in the ears, debris build up, or your dog shaking and scratching their head more than usual, it may be time to clean their ears. If you notice extreme redness or inflammation in the ears, talk with your vet before cleaning. These symptoms could indicate an infection or allergies that need medical attention.

Know the Right Cleaner

There are a wide variety of ear cleaners available. Some solutions containing hydrogen peroxide or alcohol can cause irritation. Others with antibacterial ingredients can help prevent infections. Talk with your veterinarian about what specific cleaner is best for your dog.

Follow these Steps

  1. Sit on the floor and have your dog sit in front of you. Make sure they are calm before you start, and keep them relaxed by talking to them throughout.
  2. Lift one ear vertically with one hand while holding the cleaner in the other.
  3. Squeeze the cleaning solution into the ear enough to fill the ear canal. Be careful not to touch the tip of the bottle to the ear because this can cause bacterial growth.
  4. Gently massage the base of the ear to let the cleaner break up the excess debris.
  5. While still holding the ear up, wipe away the debris from the inner ear using a cotton ball, gauze, or wet wipes. Do not use Q-tips. They can negatively impact the ear drum or ear canal if used incorrectly.
  6. Let your dog shake their head and then wipe the ear again.
  7. Repeat the same process with the other ear.
  8. Reward your dog afterward with a treat, belly rub, or playtime.

If at any time your dog appears to be in pain, stop cleaning immediately and talk with your vet as soon as possible.