Infections, water, and mites are all reasons to clean your dog’s ears. Ear cleaning is an important part of grooming to keep your furry friend healthy and happy! Because of the way that dog’s ears are structured, debris and other harmful materials can get trapped inside. It is important to be aware of whether or not your dog needs their ears cleaned to prevent itchiness and infections. But before you take out your cotton swabs, you should learn about when you should clean your dog’s ears, how you should clean your dog’s ears, and the right tools to use to keep your dog safe.
Is it Safe to Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
Before you get started with cleaning your dog’s ears at home, it’s important to first check with your pet’s vet, after all, they’re the expert. Many store-bought cleaners can be harmful to your dog and asking your vet can help you know for certain which products are safe to clean their ears with (and if you should even clean them yourself!). Most likely, your vet will recommend cleaning your dog’s ears at home to help prevent them from itching and scratching themselves. While most vets will approve of cleaning your pet’s ears at home, it’s important to ask first before jumping in.
While it is commonly safe to clean your dog’s ears at home, it’s important to be careful of ear infections prior to cleaning. If your dog frequently shakes their head, vigorously scratches their ears, has swelling or redness in and around their ears, and/or has had ear discharge, then it is safe to say that your furry pal might have an ear infection. If you have noticed any of these symptoms, then you should not clean your dog’s ears yourself, instead, take your pet to the vet to get them checked out.
After asking your vet if it’s okay to clean your dog’s ears at home and ensuring that your dog does not already have an ear infection, then you have the green light to clean your dog’s ears at home.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
Similarly to asking your vet whether or not it’s safe to clean your dog’s ears at home, you should also ask them how frequently you should clean their ears. All dogs are different, and depending on the shape and size of your pet’s ears the frequency of cleaning will vary. Most dog breeds have ears that clean themselves, other breeds require more attention from you, such as Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds. Regardless of the breed, it is important to note that overcleaning can be just as harmful as not cleaning your dog’s ears at all. Always check with your vet first to find out how often you should clean your dog’s ears to prevent infections and other irritations.
How Should You Choose an Ear Cleaner?
There are many store-bought ear cleaning solutions available, however, there are so many that it can be hard to decide which one to purchase. Everyday ear saline can be used on your dog and is typically a safe option. Like anything that relates to your pet, it is always important to consult with your vet first before purchasing and using any products.
When choosing a dog ear cleaner to use, it is imperative to avoid products that use hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, or any other types of acids and alcohols. These acidic ingredients can seriously damage the internal workings of your pet’s ears and cause a lot of pain.
The best ear cleaner to use is the one recommended to you by your dog’s veterinarian. Your vet knows the inner workings of your dog best—so it is important to consult with them before diving in and cleaning your furry friend’s ears.
What Tools You Need to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Since you should leave the internal canal cleaning of your dog’s ears to your veterinarian, the tools you will need to clean the exterior of your dog’s ears are simple. Here are the materials you need:
- Cotton Balls
- Vet-Recommended Ear Cleaner
- Dog Lover’s Towel
Just like human ears, you never want to use cotton swabs on your dog. Cotton swabs, when put inside of the ear canal, can cause damage and excessive build-up of earwax. Given that you will only be cleaning the exterior of your dog’s ears, all you will need to use are cotton balls or gauze (to be wrapped around your finger).
Steps for Easy Dog Ear Cleaning
Cleaning your dog’s ears can be tough to do alone. If you know your furry friend is more finicky, it is recommended that you have someone help you when cleaning your dog’s ears. Other than that, cleaning your dog’s ears is a fairly easy process if you have the right materials:
- Wet a cotton ball or gauze with your vet-recommended dog ear rinse.
- Gently pull back the flap of your dog’s ear, vertically, to expose the inside of their ear.
- Using your wet cotton ball or gauze wrapped around your finger, softly massage the base and flap of your dog’s ear for about 30 seconds.
- After massaging, wipe away any debris including wax or dirt away with a clean cotton ball or a clean piece of gauze.
- Then, squeeze a small amount of ear cleaning solution inside of your dog’s ear (ensuring you do not put the tip of the bottle into their ear) and gently clean the inside. Keep in mind, any resistance you experience from your dog should be taken seriously—do not keep cleaning further in the ear if your dog resists.
- If you notice your dog wanting to shake their head, let them! Head shaking is a natural response to something being put outside or inside of your dog’s ears.
- Once your dog has finished shaking its head, check to see if any other debris came out. If so, make sure to clean it up with an additional soaked cotton ball or piece of gauze.
- Sometimes, head shaking can cause debris and other liquids to get on your dog’s body or around their ears. If this is the case, you can use a dog towel to clean off your furry friend. The Absorber® Dog Lover's Towel is a great option for cleaning off your dog because of its ultra-soft and absorbent material, which makes the cleaning process quick and easy!
- After you’re finished cleaning your dog’s ear, provide them with a treat to reward their good behavior.
- Take note of any debris or any discoloration on your used cotton balls or gauze. If there is excess ear wax, discoloration, or debris, it might be a good idea to call your vet and let them know.
Cleaning your dog’s ears at home is safe to do under the guidance of your veterinarian. Making sure you have all of the necessary tools, including a vet-approved ear cleaner for dogs, is imperative to ensuring a safe, healthy, and happy four-legged friend.