How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

grey dog by lake

What To Use To Clean Dog’s Ears – And How To Do It!

Estimated Read Time: 2 ½ minutes


Should I be cleaning my dog’s ears?” Well, usually the answer is yes! Just like humans, some dogs are more prone to gunk and wax build up in their ears, and alongside teeth cleaning, is an often forgotten part of essential dog grooming.

As responsible pet parents, we should be grooming our pets as we would our children; helping our furry friends out with their regular hygiene to preserve their health and happiness. Thankfully, when it comes to ear cleaning, the process is relatively simple and can be done at home (if Fido is OK with that, that is!)

So, let’s learn how to clean your dog’s ears…

What To Use To Clean Dog’s Ears

Before you clean your dog’s ears, you need to gather the following:

  • Damp cotton wool or cotton wool pads (Never use cotton buds, as these can be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal, and cause irreparable damage)
  • A specific dog ear cleaner (You should never use products intended for humans on dogs.)
  • Potentially a second pair of kind hands, particularly if your dog is anxious and/or not used to ear cleaning
  • Lots of lean, healthy dog treats for during and after their ear clean!
  • Optional: A clean towel for any accidental spillages.

How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

collie with big ears

Before you begin, always make sure your dog is comfortable. Use a soft, praising tone and encourage them with lots of petting and niceties throughout the process.

Begin by lifting their ear gently, and taking a good look inside.

  • Examine the ear and check for any redness, discharge, or a bad odor. A little, light-colored wax is normal but anything smelly, gunky, or very red needs to be checked over by a vet before you intervene and attempt to clean the ear.
  • With your damp cotton wool or cotton pad, gently wipe around the entrance of the ear.
  • Insert the tip of your chosen dog-specific ear cleaning solution, being sure not to go in too far. Then, squeeze the bottle to release the liquid and fill the ear canal.
  • Then, massage the base of their ear to help the cleaner properly penetrate the ear canal.
  • Wipe away any excess cleaner that’s leaked out with another piece of damp cotton wool or pad. Then, repeat from the beginning of the process on their other ear! 

If your dog isn’t happy about having their ears cleaned, do not force them to go through the process with you or scold them for their reluctance. Qualified veterinary nurses can help out here, so make an appointment if your furry friend is behaving anxious or scared.

Petlab Co. Pro Tip: If your doggo is currently taking prescribed ear drops from the vet, it’s good practice to administer them soon after an ear clean. As the cleaning solution will have helped remove excess wax and muck, this can aid the medicine being absorbed more effectively!

How Often Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

fluffy puppy

When asking yourself “how often should I clean my dog’s ears?”, this really depends on your dog.

Beagles, Basset Hounds, English Cocker Spaniels, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are more prone to ear complications so require more regular cleaning than other breeds. Long droopy ears restrict airflow so debris and moisture can more easily become built up in their ear canal, triggering yeast infections and bacterial growth.

Dogs that like to swim or get very mucky on their walks will also need more regular ear cleaning too.

You need to be regularly cleaning your dog’s ears enough to prevent infection, but not overdoing it so it causes long term damage. Once a week is usually enough, but if you want a specific cleaning schedule, particularly if you own an ear-vulnerable breed, consult with your vet.


"Cleaning the ears is important for certain dogs who are prone to mucky ears - this is especially true for dogs with allergic skin diseases. These dogs are prone to infections because excess wax and debris may be irritating and will create a favorable environment for bacteria and yeast to proliferate, as well as inactivating certain ear antibiotics. 

However, if your dog has suddenly begun shaking its head, circling to one side or developed tenderness in an ear, it’s important to see your vet before attempting to clean the ears at home. This is because, if a foreign object has become lodged, it will need to be removed using specialist equipment. Similarly, your vet will need to check that the ear drum is not ruptured before administering any ointments into the ear."

Related Reads

Dog Hygiene: Your Essential Guide

Is There A Dog Yeast Infection Home Remedy?

Yeast Infections In Dogs - And What To Do About Them!

Why Does My Dog Have Smelly Ears?


Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!

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