How to Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean & Why It’s Important
When giving your dog a bath, it’s important not to get soap or water in his ears, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid cleaning your dog’s ears altogether! In fact, they need regular care. Here’s a rundown of how to clean your dog’s ears and why it’s so important.
Why Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
When most dog owners imagine grooming their pups, they think about trimming and cleaning up the coat, but a dog’s ears should not be forgotten. They need regular cleaning, and some dogs require more care than others.
One of the main reasons to clean your dog’s ears is to keep ear infections at bay. Whether caused by moisture or debris, ear infections are no fun. By cleaning your dog’s ears regularly, you can keep cut down on excess ear wax, clear out any debris, and check for ear mites. If left unchecked, ear infections can take hold. Signs of infection include:
- Odor around the ears
- Excess scratching at the ears
- Masses around the ear
How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
The frequency with which you should clean your dog’s ears depends entirely on your own dog! Some breeds, like poodles and bichons frises, are more prone to ear infections due to the hair inside their ear canals. This limits air flow, increasing the moisture trapped inside, and can lead to infections. Floppy-eared dogs, such as basset hounds and Labrador retrievers, are also more likely to develop infection because of lack of airflow.
Most dogs’ ears need to be cleaned just once a month, but if you have one of the dogs above, his ears may need cleaning once a week. If you’re not sure, speak with your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how often your pup needs this care, as it varies from dog to dog.
Other factors that can require you to clean your dog’s ears regularly or could lead to infection include:
- Debris – Dogs that like to roll around in grass can easily get pieces of it, leaves, or other debris stuck in their ears.
- Ear mites
- Moisture – This provides the perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.
What You Need to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
You can absolutely clean your dog’s ears at home! But if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always bring your pet to a groomer.
If you plan on cleaning your dog’s ears yourself, you’ll need a few supplies before you get started. Make sure you have them on-hand before getting down to business with your pup. You don’t want to find halfway through that you forgot something!
- Cotton balls, gauze, or pads – Do not use cotton swabs as this could push debris or wax into the ears.
- Vet-approved ear cleaner
- Treats as rewards
- Any medication your vet has prescribed
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Have your dog sit somewhere he’s comfortable. The bathtub can be the perfect spot to prevent ear cleanser from getting on the floor, but some dogs don’t like the tub. If that won’t work, put a towel on the floor, or take him outside.
Hold the ear up and check for excess hair. Some dogs are more prone than others to excess hair, so keep an eye on it, as this hair can trap moisture and lead to ear infections. If you’re unsure if your dog has too much hair in their ear or not, ask your groomer or veterinarian. This may need to be removed with tweezers before you move to the next step.
Still holding the ear up, carefully squirt the ear solution inside per its instructions. Do not allow the tip of the applicator to touch their ear..
Gently and carefully massage the base of your dog’s ears for 20 to 30 seconds. You will hear a squishing sound—this is normal!
Allow your dog to shake. Use the towel to clean up any spilled cleaning solution or to hold over your pup’s head while he shakes his ears.
Use the cotton ball, pad, or gauze to carefully wipe the ear canal and outer ear. Do not use anything inside the ear. Stick to the part of the ear you can see.
Repeat with the other ear.
If your dog has any prescribed medication from the veterinarian, you can administer this after you have cleaned the ears. Make sure you follow the instructions on the prescription for application and dosage.
Tips to Make the Process Less Stressful
Cleaning your dog’s ears, especially if he’s not comfortable, can be stressful for everyone involved. These tips can make it easier for both of you:
- Be generous with treats to help your pup associate ear cleaning with good things.
- Start cleaning when your dog is young, if possible – It’s easier to get a puppy used to ear cleaning than an older dog.
- Be generous when using the cleaning solution to ensure it’s cleaning the entire ear.
- Inspect your dog’s ears regularly for excess hair, ear wax, mites, or other issues, so you can identify when a cleaning is needed.
You May Want to Take Your Dog to a Groomer
Some dogs don’t like their ears touched, especially when they’re older and not used to the ear-cleaning process. If this is the case with your pup or you don’t feel entirely comfortable administering the solution, a groomer can absolutely help.
A typical grooming session at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital includes a bubble bath, brush-out, nail trimming, and ear cleaning. This can be perfect if your dog is not a huge fan of having his ears cleaned. Our team is experienced and trained to identify any more serious issues with the ears, such as infections, ear mites, or trapped debris.
Cleaning your dog’s ears may feel like a chore, but it’s one your dog’s health relies on. Making it a regular occurrence will ensure your family member’s ears are comfortable and healthy, all while keeping ear infections at bay.
If you believe your dog is in need of an ear cleaning or check-up, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! You can make an appointment by calling 281-693-7387.