When to Clean Dog Ears Before Or After A Bath?

18 minutes read

Cleaning your dog's ears is an essential part of their overall grooming routine. However, the question of whether to clean their ears before or after a bath is a common concern for dog owners.


Ideally, you should clean your dog's ears before giving them a bath. Cleaning their ears first allows you to remove any built-up dirt, wax, or other debris before it gets washed deeper into the ear canal during the bath. It also ensures that you have a clear view of the ear canal and can inspect it properly.


Cleaning your dog's ears before a bath also prevents any excess moisture from entering the ear. Moisture can create a warm and moist environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria and yeast, potentially leading to ear infections. By cleaning the ears beforehand, you can minimize this risk.


After bathing your dog, it's still important to inspect their ears for any water or shampoo residue that may have entered the ear canal. If necessary, gently wipe away any excess moisture using a clean, dry cloth or cotton ball. However, you should avoid inserting any cotton swabs or other objects into your dog's ear canal, as this can cause injury.


Remember, not all dogs require frequent ear cleanings. Some breeds have naturally clean ears and may only need occasional cleaning, while others with floppy ears or hair growth in their ear canals may require more regular attention. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate cleaning frequency and products to use for your specific dog's needs.

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


Does the dog's breed affect when to clean their ears?

Yes, the dog's breed can affect when to clean their ears. Some dog breeds, such as those with floppy or hairy ears like Cocker Spaniels or Shih Tzus, are more prone to developing ear infections or have excessive earwax buildup. These breeds may require more frequent ear cleaning compared to dogs with erect ears, like German Shepherds or Boxers, which tend to have better airflow in their ears. It's important to consult a veterinarian for specific recommendations on ear cleaning frequency based on your dog's breed and individual needs.


Can overcleaning a dog's ears cause any harm?

Yes, overcleaning a dog's ears can cause harm. The ears of dogs have a natural defense mechanism, which includes producing wax to help protect against infections and debris. Cleaning the ears too frequently or aggressively can disrupt this balance and lead to several issues:

  1. Irritation and inflammation: Overcleaning can irritate the delicate skin inside the ears, resulting in redness, itchiness, and discomfort for the dog.
  2. Dry skin: Frequent cleaning can strip the ears of their natural oils, leading to dryness and flakiness, which may cause further irritation.
  3. Infection risk: Excessive cleaning can create micro-abrasions or small cuts in the ear canal, making it easier for bacteria or yeast to enter and cause infections.
  4. Ear canal damage: Using incorrect cleaning techniques or tools can damage the ear canal or eardrum, potentially causing pain, hearing loss, or other serious complications.


It is important to maintain regular ear cleaning for dogs, especially in breeds prone to ear infections. However, it's best to follow the guidance of a veterinarian and use appropriate cleaning solutions and techniques.


Are there any alternative methods for cleaning dog ears?

Yes, there are alternative methods for cleaning dog ears. Some alternative methods include:

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide Solution: You can mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water and use a dropper or cotton ball to apply it to the dog's ear. Gently massage the base of the ear to help loosen any debris or wax, and then use a clean cotton ball to wipe away the solution.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar Solution: Dilute apple cider vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio and apply it to the dog's ear using a dropper or cotton ball. Similar to hydrogen peroxide, gently massage the base of the ear and wipe away any debris or solution.
  3. Witch Hazel: Witch hazel has natural cleaning properties and can be diluted with water to clean dog ears. Use a dropper or cotton ball to apply the solution and gently massage the ear before wiping away any dirt or excess liquid.


It's important to note that before using any alternative cleaning methods, it's best to consult with your veterinarian to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your dog's specific ear condition.


How can you prevent excessive wax buildup in a dog's ears?

To prevent excessive wax buildup in a dog's ears, you can follow these steps:

  1. Regular ear cleaning: Clean your dog's ears at least once a month, or as recommended by your veterinarian. Use a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution and cotton balls or a soft cloth. Gently wipe the visible part of the ear canal and the outer ear, avoiding going too deep.
  2. Regular grooming: Keep your dog's ear hair trimmed, especially if they have long, floppy ears. This helps to promote air circulation and prevents hair from trapping moisture and debris in the ear canal.
  3. Monitor for signs of allergies: Allergies can increase the production of wax in your dog's ears. Monitor for any signs of allergies such as itching, redness, swelling, or discharge. If your dog has allergies, work with your veterinarian to manage them effectively.
  4. Ensure proper drying: After swimming or bathing, make sure to dry your dog's ears thoroughly. Use a clean towel or cotton ball to gently dry the ears, paying attention to the canal. Excess moisture can lead to wax buildup.
  5. Avoid using cotton swabs: Do not use cotton swabs or any sharp objects to clean your dog's ears, as this can push wax further into the ear canal and potentially cause injury.
  6. Regular veterinary check-ups: Regularly schedule check-ups with your veterinarian, who can inspect your dog's ears and provide guidance on proper ear care. They may recommend specific ear cleaning solutions or provide guidance on managing any underlying conditions.


It's important to note that some dog breeds are prone to excessive wax buildup or have specific ear care requirements. If you have concerns or questions about your dog's ears, it's best to consult with your veterinarian for a tailored approach.


Do dogs with floppy ears require more frequent cleaning?

Dogs with floppy ears generally require more frequent cleaning compared to dogs with upright or pricked ears. The reason is that floppy ears tend to provide a warm and moist environment which is conducive to the growth of bacteria, yeast, and dirt accumulation. This can lead to ear infections and other ear-related issues. Therefore, it is important to regularly clean floppy ears to maintain their hygiene and prevent potential problems. Regular cleaning can help remove dirt, debris, and excess wax and also allows owners to inspect the ears for any signs of infection or irritation. It is recommended to consult a veterinarian for specific ear cleaning instructions and to establish a suitable cleaning routine for your dog's individual needs.

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