How To Clean Dog’s Ears Properly


Dogs rely on their ears for many things and that doesn’t just mean to hear things with. Dogs also use their ears to communicate to other dogs and humans. So if they become sore, dirty, or infected it can negatively affect their day-to-day life in more ways than one.

Some breeds are more prone to this. But whether your dog has long hair, short hair, floppy ears, or pointy ears, they are all susceptible to ear problems. These can, fortunately, be prevented by keeping on top of your dog’s ear cleaning.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is a bit more complicated than it is for us. Usually we just use a Q-tip. But for dogs, you will need to get a bit more hands-on with multiple steps as well.

Luckily, you have come to the right place though to find out how to clean your dog’s ears. In this guide, we will start off with ways that you can check your dog’s ears so that you know what warning signs to look out for. 

How To Clean Dog’s Ears

Table of Contents

How To Check Your Dog’s Ears

It’s important to know the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy dog ear. It will help you stay one step ahead of what might happen. 

Outside the Ear

The first check you can do is relatively simple but can tell a lot about the health of the ear. All you have to do is gently stroke the dog’s ear from the base to the tip and if you find that the dog is flinching.

Pulling their head away or suddenly yelping then is a clear sign that something may be wrong.

However, this step is only helpful for dogs that otherwise like having their ears stroked. A dog who doesn’t would naturally flinch or pull their head away. 

If your dog is shaking their head a lot or is itching its ears often, it is also a sign that they are experiencing irritation or soreness. 

Have a look at the outside of the ear and look for any signs of mites, parasites, sores, inflamed skin, or tangled hair. If you come across any, gently comb it out or trim the hair off if it’s too tangled. 

If the ear looks healthy on the outside, then you may have to take a closer look and check the inside of the ear.

Inside the Ear

This is where you should look for an excessive amount of ear wax, grit, dirt, or dead skin as well as anything else in the ear that looks like it is causing an obstruction. 

Do not worry if you see some earwax though. This is totally normal and is there to provide a protective barrier.

However, if the wax looks very greasy, thick, or dirty then it can be a symptom of something else going on in the ear. 

As you can expect, any signs of blood inside of the ear is not normal. You also shouldn’t be able to smell anything bad as this can be a sign of a parasite infestation or infection.

If this is the case, you should bring your dog to the vet as soon as you can. The dog is likely in a lot of pain and if you leave it too long, their hearing could be affected. 


Some dogs can have long hair inside of their ears that can trap wax and dirt. You will need to gently comb out. But you can also trim the hair to make it a bit shorter.

You must be very careful though. One wrong move could nip the ear. So if your dog is the wriggly kind, it would be best to take them to the vet instead. 

If you have a dog breed with long, thick hair they will likely have to have the hair in and around their ears maintained on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that it is much easier to keep on top of the hair as it grows instead of waiting for it to get back to the same length that it was.

Some groomers are able to pluck the long hair in a dog’s ears with a special technique. But you should not try this at home because there is a good chance that you will hurt your dog by accident. So leave it to the professionals for the best results. 

You should be able to all the way down to the ear canal and if necessary, you might need to turn the ear around a bit so that you can see in between the cracks and crevices for any debris. 

How To Clean Dog’s Ears

How To Clean Dog’s Ears

To clean your dog’s ears, you will first have to gather some equipment together.

This includes:

  • Cotton wool pads or damp cotton wool, do not use cotton buds as they can get jammed too far into the ear
  • Dog specific ear cleaner, do not use any products that are made for human ears
  • Clean towel
  • Some to help you 
  • Lots of tasty dog treats
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Now that you have all the equipment ready, it’s time to do the hard part which is cleaning the dog’s ears. 

  1. The first thing you should do is make sure that your dog is comfortable and relaxed. If they are not, the cleaning process will be much harder, and your dog will likely be even more troublesome the next time you try to do it. 
  2. Next, use the cotton wool to gently wipe around the entrance of the ear to remove excess wax and dirt.
    Get the dog-friendly ear cleaner and insert the tip into the ear canal, make sure that it doesn’t go in too far, and give the bottle a squeeze to release the product.
  3. Give the base of the ear a bit of a massage so that the cleaner passes into the ear canal
  4. Use the damp cotton wool to wipe away the excess cleaner
  5. Carry out the same process for the other ear
  6. If your dog has been prescribed ear drops, it’s best to use them after you have cleaned the ears as this will help the medicine to pass through the ear without getting stuck to any ear wax. 

Throughout this ear cleaning process, you should keep rewarding your dog’s tolerance with positive reinforcement and treats. This will make them much more willing to do it again in the future. 

Some breeds will need to have their ears cleaned more regularly than others. Especially those with long ears such as basset hounds and cocker spaniels. Their ears don’t get as much air and can trap debris pretty easily. 

If your dog likes to swim, you should also clean its ears more regularly. The extra moisture can cause ear infections. 

In general, it’s best to clean them on a regular basis. But don’t do it too much. Overcleaning can cause the ears to get irritated and lead to more issues.

To be safe, it’s best that you ask your vet as to how often you should clean your dog’s ears. They will know your dog and exactly what they need. 

By the way, did you know people use coconut oil for dog ear infections?


To summarize, it’s fairly easy to clean your dog’s ears. The signs that you need to are clear to see once you know what to look out for.

Your dog will be thankful that you took the time to research and put into practice how to clean their ears. In the long run, it will save you a lot in veterinary costs. 


What is the best thing to clean a dog’s ears with?

Look for an ear cleaning solution that is formulated for dogs. Avoid using human ear cleaning solutions or alcohol-based products, as these can be harsh and harmful to dogs’ sensitive ear canals.

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