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Animal Hospital of Waynesville

Cleaning a Dog's Ear

At some point in time if you are a dog owner, you may have to clean and/or medicate their ears. Not every dog is prone to ear infections, but given the correct environment or circumstances, or even breed, it may be something you need to become familiar with doing. It is a good idea to regularly clean your dog”s ears to prevent any infection and to keep them clean. It also lets you familiarize yourself with your babies ears, and let”s them get used to having them handled. Dog”s ears are unlike humans in the way they are shaped, and are susceptible to trapping bacteria, parasites, and yeast due to the curvy design. This means that if anything is stuck in the ear, it must work its way out. Each dog is unique, so feeling your baby out before you jump in would be a good idea. You need to start slow if your dog is nervous or isn”t used to someone messing with their ears. Take one step at a time, and it may take several attempts to get them used to what you are doing. Make sure you are in an area that can be cleaned easily like the bathtub, or outside because this will get messy!

  1. Beginning with one ear, lift the ear so the ear canal is visible and accessible (if your dog has short ears you may already see the canal). Using an ear cleaner specifically made for animals (i.e. Stratford Ear Cleanser), gently pour the cleaner into the ear, filling up the ear canal. Your baby may wiggle or seem surprised, or try to shake their head when you do this, but talk to them calmly and soothe them and do not let them shake their head just yet.

  2. Gently rub the base of your dog”s ear, producing a “Shooshing” sound. Some of the cleaner may spill out but for the most part you shouldn”t lose much. Try to do this for 1-5 minutes as your dog will allow.

  3. Repeat step 1-2 with the other ear if possible without letting your dog shake their head. You may have to do each ear separately though.

  4. Once you have let the cleaner work around in the ear canal, let your baby shake their head. This will be the messy part. They will sling cleaner and possibly debris out of their ear.

  5. After they shake out the excess, you may see some debris on the inside of the ear flap and the canal. At this point, you can take a cotton ball and gently wipe out ONLY what you can see. Do not use anything to go down into the ear canal that is not visible to you because you may cause damage. If you are concerned about any remaining debris in the ear that you can”t see, contact your veterinarian.

  6. If you need to medicate their ears as directed by your veterinarian, do this about an hour after cleaning the ears, or try to separate them out throughout the day (i.e. clean in the morning, medicate in the evening). If you medicate directly after cleaning the ears, your dog may shake out the medication. Most ear medications come in tubes that are easy to use, and your vet can show you how to properly use.

If you see any of the following, contact your vet:

  • redness

  • swelling

  • bad smell

  • crusty skin

  • hair loss

  • bleeding

  • excessive discharge

Always clean your dog”s ears after a swim, or a bath. Always use a cleaner made especially for dogs and cats. Never use anything else unless you consult with your veterinarian first. If your dog goes to the groomer, you can request that they clean their ears there if they are not already doing so. If you have any questions or problems, contact your veterinarian and request for them to demonstrate the procedure for you.