How to Clean A Dog Ear Canal?

18 minutes read

Cleaning a dog's ear canal is an important part of their overall hygiene and health care routine. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your dog's ears:

  1. Gather the necessary supplies: You will need a dog-specific ear cleaning solution (available at pet stores or recommended by your vet), cotton balls or gauze pads, and possibly gloves (especially if dealing with an infected ear).
  2. Get your dog comfortable: Find a calm and quiet area where you and your dog can comfortably perform the ear cleaning. Make sure your dog is relaxed and in a secure position, such as sitting or lying down.
  3. Examine your dog's ears: Before starting the cleaning process, inspect your dog's ears for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, discharge, or a foul odor. If you notice any concerning signs, it's best to consult your veterinarian before proceeding with cleaning.
  4. Apply ear cleaning solution: Take the ear cleaning solution and gently lift the ear flap to expose the ear canal. Pour a small amount of the solution into the ear canal, making sure not to insert the applicator tip too deeply. Massaging the base of the ear will help distribute the solution throughout the canal.
  5. Wipe away debris: After applying the ear cleaning solution, take a cotton ball or gauze pad and use it to wipe away any visible debris, dirt, wax, or excess solution from the inner ear folds and canal. Be gentle and avoid poking or pushing too deeply into the ear to prevent any potential damage.
  6. Repeat if necessary: Depending on the level of dirt or ear wax buildup, you may need to repeat steps 4 and 5 to ensure a thorough cleaning. However, over-cleaning can disrupt the ear's natural balance, so it's essential not to overdo it. Follow your veterinarian's instructions or the guidelines on the ear cleaning solution for frequency.
  7. Reward and praise: Once you've completed the cleaning process, reward your dog with a treat or praise to reinforce positive behavior. This helps to create a positive association with the ear cleaning experience, making subsequent sessions easier.


Remember, regular ear cleaning is essential for dogs with a predisposition to ear infections or those with floppy ears, such as Basset Hounds or Cocker Spaniels. However, if you notice any signs of persistent ear irritation, inflammation, or a foul odor, it's crucial to seek veterinary advice as it may indicate an underlying issue or infection.

Best Dog Ear Cleaners of 2023

1
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs & Cats, 8 oz

Rating is 5 out of 5

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs & Cats, 8 oz

  • Non-irritating solution
  • Use during routine cleansing of sensitive ears
  • Removes debris and excessive wax and dries the ear canal.
  • Recommended for pets with chronic otitis externa which is chronic inflammation of a dogs external ear canal.
  • It has a low pH, so it shouldn't interfere with other ear preparations.
2
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy, 4 oz. – Cat and Dog Ear Cleaner to Help Soothe Itchiness and Cleans The Ear Canal from Debris and Buildup That May Cause Infection

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy, 4 oz. – Cat and Dog Ear Cleaner to Help Soothe Itchiness and Cleans The Ear Canal from Debris and Buildup That May Cause Infection

  • HELPS ALLEVIATE – This dog and cat ear cleaner was formulated with properties to help promote healthy ear canals. Rinse pet's ears daily with solution and massage area.
  • DAILY MAINTENANCE – Helps breakdown buildup in the canal that may be causing foul odors and itching, scratching, and head shaking. Excellent for daily care and maintenance.
  • GENTLE FOR SENSITIVE EARS – Alcohol-free, mildly scented, and a non-irritating formula, this cat and dog ear wash is suitable for sensitive ears and gentle enough for frequent use.
  • FOR YOUR PETS – Clinical Care Ear Therapy is great for dogs, cats, and small animals over 12 weeks for daily care and to maintain the ear health of your pet.
  • EFFECTIVE & AFFORDABLE – Our premium products are high-quality at an affordable price. Store original container in a cool, dry place away from the sun, below 86°F or 30°C.
3
Pet MD - Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes - Otic Cleanser for Dogs to Stop Ear Itching, and Infections with Aloe and Eucalyptus - 100 Count

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

Pet MD - Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes - Otic Cleanser for Dogs to Stop Ear Itching, and Infections with Aloe and Eucalyptus - 100 Count

  • Advanced Formulation Designed to Gently Clean, Deodorize and Dry Your Pets Ears
  • Gentle and Safe for Regular Use which Prevents Ear Infections, Reduces Wax Build Up and Removes Debris in and Around the Ear
  • 100 Convenient, Alcohol Free, Soothing and Non-Irritating Disposable Ear Wipes for Dogs. For Dogs Over 12 Weeks Old
  • Reduce Foul Ear Odor and Prevents Infection to Keeps Your Dog Happy and Healthy without Medication
  • Made in the USA in Federally Regulated Manufacturing Facilities to Ensure Quality and Safety
4
Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution for Dogs and Cats to Soothe Ear Infections with 1% Hydrocortisone for Itch Relief, 1.25oz

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution for Dogs and Cats to Soothe Ear Infections with 1% Hydrocortisone for Itch Relief, 1.25oz

  • Ear care for dogs and cats - soothes ear infections, redness and inflammation for pets of all ages
  • Gentle, no-sting formula helps ease painful ear infections caused by germs, fungi and yeast
  • Solution provides a safe, natural alternative to oral medication with 1% Hydrocortisone for itch relief
  • No pre-cleaning of painful ears required - fill ear canal and let powerful solution get to work
  • Patented LP3 Enzyme System helps clear ear secretions and promotes healthy ears
5
Vet's Best Ear Relief Finger Wipes | Ear Cleansing Finger Wipes for Dogs | Sooths & Deodorizes | 50 Disposable Wipes

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Vet's Best Ear Relief Finger Wipes | Ear Cleansing Finger Wipes for Dogs | Sooths & Deodorizes | 50 Disposable Wipes

  • GENTLY CLEANSES – Vet’s Best Ear Relief Finger Wipes single-use finger wipes gently and effectively removes dirt and dissolves waxy build-up.
  • SOOTHS & DEODORIZES - Regular use of our wipes will help to safely & gently remove build-up and discharge that can cause odor.
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS - Our wipes are free from Parabens and made with all-natural ingredients like Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera and Tea Tree Oil.
  • FOR REGULAR USE – Use as needed until wipes are free of visible wax or build-up after use. Use 1-2 times weekly on a routine basis to maintain clean ears
  • EASY TO USE – Simply rub the accessible portion of your dog’s ears with our pre-moistened wipe and dispose after use.
6
VetWELL Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats - Otic Rinse for Infections and Controlling Ear Infections and Odor in Pets - 8 oz (Cucumber Melon)

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

VetWELL Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats - Otic Rinse for Infections and Controlling Ear Infections and Odor in Pets - 8 oz (Cucumber Melon)

  • Veterinarian Formulated to Gently Clean, Deodorize, Acidify and Dry Your Pets Ears
  • Safe And Gentle Ear Cleanser with Aloe Vera for Daily Use. Won't Sting, Burn or Aggravate the Ear Canal
  • Eliminates Build Up of Wax, Fluid, Dirt & Debris to Stop Itching, Scratching, Head Shaking and Irritation.
  • Helps Relieve Ear Infections Caused by Growths, Buildup, and Itching.
  • Made in the USA in Federally Regulated Manufacturing Facilities to Ensure Quality and Safety.
7
Zymox Ear Cleanser Solution for Dogs and Cats, 4oz

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

Zymox Ear Cleanser Solution for Dogs and Cats, 4oz

  • Cat and dog ear cleaner – quickly and effectively clean non-infected ears in pets of all ages
  • Gentle, non-toxic and non-irritating solution free from harsh detergents, veterinarian recommended
  • Patented LP3 Enzyme System helps to gently maintain healthy, fresh smelling ears
  • Cat and dog ear cleaner solution to manage dirty ears, safe for flushing the ears after an infection
  • Proudly USA made in a Federally Regulated Manufacturing Facility, cruelty-free and easy to use
8
Vet's Best Ear Relief Wash Cleaner for Dogs, 16 oz Refill

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

Vet's Best Ear Relief Wash Cleaner for Dogs, 16 oz Refill

  • IMMEDIATE RELIEF - Vet's Best Ear Relief Wash Cleaner for Dogs cleans and soothes raw, itchy, smelly, or greasy dog ears.
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS - Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash uses a carefully formulated combination of natural ingredients, including witch hazel, chamomile, aloe vera, clove oil, and tea tree oil to help control unpleasant odor and itching.
  • AS NEEDED - May be used daily or as needed to clean ears and control wax build-up.
  • TOTAL CARE - Vet's Best Ear Relief Wash Cleaner is part of our complete treatment system for raw, itchy, and smelly dog ears. Use with Vet’s Best Dry Ear Relief.
  • MADE IN THE USA - Alcohol-free and non-stinging. Used to refill the Vet's Best 4 oz ear cleaner wash.
9
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, 8 oz

Rating is 4.2 out of 5

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, 8 oz

  • Epi-Otic may be used for routine ear cleansing in healthy ear canal or prior to administration of other ear preparations
  • A mild alcohol-free cleansing and drying solution for routine maintenance of otitis externa
  • Epi-Otic has a low pH of 2.2 and contains no chlorhexidine or alcohol
  • Packaging May Vary


Is it safe to use cotton swabs to clean a dog's ear canal?

No, it is not safe to use cotton swabs to clean a dog's ear canal, as you can potentially push debris and wax further inside, causing damage or infection. It is always recommended to consult with a veterinarian before attempting to clean a dog's ears. They can recommend appropriate ear cleaning products and demonstrate the correct technique to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet.


What are the potential risks of not cleaning a dog's ear canal?

There are several potential risks of not cleaning a dog's ear canal:

  1. Accumulation of earwax and debris: Failure to clean a dog's ear canal can lead to a build-up of earwax, dirt, allergens, and other debris. This can create an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mites, leading to infections and other ear problems.
  2. Ear infections: When the ear canal remains dirty, bacteria and yeast can multiply, leading to infections such as otitis externa. These infections can cause discomfort, pain, itching, redness, swelling, and even foul odor.
  3. Hearing loss: Chronic or severe ear infections resulting from uncleaned ear canals can potentially cause hearing loss in dogs. Infection-related inflammation and damage to the eardrum may impact their ability to hear properly.
  4. Hematoma formation: When dogs frequently shake their heads and scratch their ears due to discomfort caused by unclean ears, they can develop an ear hematoma. It is a painful condition where blood pools between the skin and cartilage of the ear flap.
  5. Secondary complications: Untreated ear infections can lead to more severe complications, including spreading of the infection to surrounding tissues, face, and skull. In some cases, the infection can enter the middle and inner ear, potentially leading to more serious health issues.
  6. Chronic discomfort: Dogs with unclean ear canals may experience chronic discomfort, pain, and itching due to the presence of debris and infections. This can affect their overall well-being and behavior, leading to irritability, restlessness, decreased appetite, and reduced activity levels.


It is important to regularly clean a dog's ear canal using appropriate methods and products recommended by a veterinarian to prevent these potential risks and maintain good ear health.


Can I clean a dog's ear canal at home or should I visit a vet?

It is generally recommended to visit a vet for cleaning a dog's ear canal. Cleaning a dog's ears requires proper knowledge and technique to avoid causing any injury or discomfort to the dog. Additionally, a veterinarian can examine the ears thoroughly to identify any underlying issues like infections or ear mites that may require specific treatment. With their expertise, vets can safely and effectively clean a dog's ear canal.


Are there any alternative methods to clean a dog's ear canal?

Yes, there are alternative methods to clean a dog's ear canal. Here are a few:

  1. Vinegar and Water Solution: You can create a homemade cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of water and vinegar (such as apple cider vinegar or white vinegar). Use a sterile dropper to apply a few drops of the solution into the dog's ear canal. Gently massage the base of the ear to help dislodge any debris. Let your dog shake their head to expel the solution, and then gently wipe the outer part of the ear with a clean cloth or cotton ball.
  2. Natural Ear Cleaning Solutions: Some pet stores offer commercial ear cleaning solutions made from natural ingredients. These products can be effective and are often gentler on a dog's ears compared to chemical-based cleaners.
  3. Mineral or Baby Oil: Applying a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil into the dog's ear canal can help soften and loosen any wax or debris. Gently massage the base of the ear to distribute the oil, and allow the dog to shake its head to help remove the loosened debris. Wipe away any excess oil or debris from the outer ear.


It is important to note that if your dog has any existing ear infections, chronic ear problems, or if they seem uncomfortable or in pain, it is best to consult a veterinarian before attempting any alternative methods of ear cleaning.


How do I know if my dog's ear canal is infected?

There are several signs that can indicate an ear infection in dogs. It is important to look out for the following:

  1. Excessive scratching or rubbing of the ears: If your dog is constantly scratching or rubbing their ears, it may indicate an infection.
  2. Foul odor: An unpleasant smell emanating from the ear is often a sign of infection.
  3. Redness and inflammation: If the ear canal appears red or swollen, it could be a sign of an infection.
  4. Discharge: A yellow or brown discharge from the ear can be indicative of an infection.
  5. Pain or discomfort: If your dog displays signs of pain or discomfort when you touch or handle their ears, it may suggest an infection.
  6. Head shaking or tilting: Dogs with ear infections often shake their heads or tilt them to one side in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.
  7. Loss of balance or coordination: In severe cases, an inner ear infection may affect your dog's balance and coordination.


If you notice any combination of these symptoms or suspect that your dog may have an ear infection, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian. They can properly diagnose the issue and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

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