How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

It’s important to keep your pooch’s ears clean. It helps to prevent infection, skin irritation and keeps your dog happy and healthy.

Recognizing Healthy Ears

If your dog’s ears are healthy, meaning there is no infection, they will appear to be the same pale color as the rest of your dog’s skin. Infected ears will appear red and they may be filled with discharge. They also may have a foul odor that you will definitely notice. Plus, your dog’s infected ears will be sensitive to touch and could cause the dog considerable pain. He will probably react to any contact by whining or cringing.

Another affliction your dog may have is ear mites. Ear mites themselves are difficult to see with the naked eye, but this may be the case if your pet is frequently scratching at his ears or shaking his head. If the mites have been there for a while, you may also notice dried blood inside his ears. A veterinarian will need to diagnose this condition and can provide you with special ear drops that contain insecticide.

If you think your dog may have an ear infection or mites, do not attempt to clean his ears yourself. See a veterinarian as soon as possible for medication and a treatment plan.

Ear Cleaning Instructions

Step one: Buy the cleaning solution

On the day you plan to clean your dog’s ears or before, purchase an ear-cleaning solution from your vet or a pet supply store. This is either a blue or clear liquid and is usually sold in a plastic bottle with a dropper tip. Ask an employee if you need help finding it.

You will also need a couple cotton pads, which can be found at any drug store. They are often labeled as make-up removing pads. You can also use a cotton ball or buy premoistened ear wipes. Never use a cotton swab or anything of that small size to clean your dog’s ears. This could cause potential harm to your dog if it gets inside the ear canal.

Step two: Getting the dog to sit or stand still

This step may be the most difficult one of the entire process, especially if the dog isn’t comfortable with someone touching his ears. It’s best to begin handling his ears when you first adopt him so that he has no qualms about them being touched. If this is still a problem for him, you may want to start handling his ears on a daily basis for a few days before cleaning them so he will become more comfortable. Reward him with a treat after each session so he sees ear cleaning as a positive experience.

Step three: Use the cotton pad

The cotton pad will be especially useful if you see any wax buildup on the inside of your dogs ears. Add a couple drops of cleaning solution to the pad. You want it damp, but not dripping wet. Skip this step if you’re using premoistened ear wipes.

Fold your pet’s ear in such a way as to expose the inside of his earflap. This should not be painful for your pet. If he resists, use less pressure and use a pleasant tone of voice to soothe him.

Gently wipe the inside of your dog’s ear with the moistened pad. The wax and dirt should come off pretty easily due to the smooth surface of the underside of the ear. Be careful to avoid the ear canal. You do not want to insert the pad too far down and risk serious damage to your pet.

Step four: Use the bottle

After you’ve removed any excess wax from the ear’s surface with the pad or wipe, you can more thoroughly clean the inner ear with the dropper bottle. If your solution doesn’t have a dropper-type tip, you can dip a medicine dropper into the mouth of the bottle and use that instead.
Simply hold the bottle three inches from your dog’s ear and place two or three drops of the solution inside your dog’s ear. (Do not place the dropper inside the ear canal.) Then fold your dog’s ear down and massage the area near the canal opening for about 10 seconds so that the solution is absorbed inside. You will know it is absorbed when you hear a squishing sound.

Step five: Let the head-shaking begin

Your work is done here. Simply let your dog go. If he’s like most dogs, he’ll take this opportunity to shake his head several times. Don’t worry; this is a good thing. The shaking motion will serve to dislodge any remaining wax or dirt, finishing the cleaning process.

Check your dog’s ears when he’s done shaking. If you notice any remaining wax or debris, repeat steps two and three again. If your dog’s ears are still not clean, this may be an early sign of infection. Time to give the veterinarian a call.

Don’t Worry About Drying

It’s not necessary to dry your dog’s inner ears. The formula of the cleaning solution and your dog’s body temperature will be enough for his ears to dry on their own. Besides, can you imagine him holding still any longer after this ordeal?

Reward your clean-eared dog for a job well done.

How Often Should You Clean His Ears?

Your ear-cleaning schedule will depend on the type of dog you have. If your dog has prominent ears, such as many of the hound breeds, you will need to clean his ears fairly regularly. However, dogs of many other breeds will rarely need cleanings at all.

Other factors which may affect the need for ear-cleanings include the overall health of your dog and whether or not he has allergies. Follow the advice of your veterinarian on this matter, and check his ears once a week.


  1. Lynda says:


    Go buy a container of iodized table salt. On all surfaces in your home that have fabric or carpet, sprinkle generously. Make sure to remove cushions off of couches and chairs, take top mattress off of box springs, and salt those surfaces also. Let the salt sit for 3-4 days and vacuum up. If the first treatment doesn’t get rid of the adults and eggs, reapply and wait another three days. This should take care of the problem.

  2. Barb says:

    My vet gave me a homemade recipe for cleaning my dog’s ears out. It consists of: 1/3 cup each of rubbing alcohol – white vinegar – water. Mix.

    Can be stored in a glass bottle. I would not store it in plastic. Should try to have this around room temperature. Don’t want to shock the dog’s system! I fill my dropper and hold it under warm running water from the faucet. I use a dropper I got for free from my local Walmart store – got it at the pharmacy prescription desk, a very nice size. In fact, they gave me two; I have two dogs. I rinse the dropper off with soap and water. I also wash it again when I’m ready to use it.

  3. Jessica says:

    Dogs rarely have ear mites. Cats are the ones that usually have ear mites. The opposite is true for ear infections – dogs usually get them and cats usually don’t. This is not to say that it never happens, but this is the normal way it goes.

  4. Dianna says:

    Using baby wipes also works well. I have two hound dogs and my vet suggested this. My boys actually enjoy the ear washing. The wipes are a gentle cleaner and so the dog really thinks he is getting a good ear rubbing not a washing.

  5. Mikki says:

    Apple cider vinegar in their water everyday helps also. Just pour in about a tablespoon.

  6. Rachel says:

    I just use hot/warm soapy water for my dogs ears with a paper napkin. Would that be ok for him? Or what? Any suggestions if I could do that too?
    Thanks :-)

  7. Brandee says:

    My dogs have ear mites; is it bad. I wash there ears out a lot. My dogs love having there ears washed out; if I’m in the shower, they will jump in the shower with me and let water run in their ears. Is this bad for them?

  8. Hunter says:

    I need help. I am cleaning my dog’s ear with a homemade recipe. I have been doing it once a day because he has black smelly stuff. But now the inside of his ear is breaking out in red bumps… Is it possible that he is allergic to something in the solution or is it because I have been doing it everyday?? It is made with alcohol and apple vinegar and boric acid.

  9. Waylon says:

    Leave out the boric acid man.

  10. Ann says:

    How’s your dog doing Hunter? You don’t need to clean his ears everyday. That’s way too much. The smelly black stuff is a yeast infection. Your vet can give you drops to fix that. And the vet can give you the right homemade mixture for your dog. The 1/3 vinegar, 1/3 alcohol, 1/3 water mixture from above sounds gentle enough.

  11. Bobby says:

    My dog had an ear infection and had the little red bumps. I cleaned his ears and took my finger and rubbed the infected areas with Neosporin, which is an over the counter product, and within two weeks the infected area cleared up.

  12. Marrisa says:

    So my dog has an ear infection. I don’t have money to take her to the vet. Are their any home remedies I can use to make my baby (dog) feel better?

  13. Melanie says:

    White vinegar is a good choice; it’s an antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and more, and it is well documented online as being used for a DIY dog ear wash. You can also use an ear oil. Coconut oil or cod liver oil can work well as an ear oil and can be bought at a grocery store. Another option is to make a DIY ear oil using olive oil and garlic, but that takes several days to make. Both coconut and garlic are antibacterials, as well as having other healthy benefits.
    Source: – DIY Dog Ear Cleaning
    Source: True Natural Remedies – A Natural Home Remedy for Dog Ear Infections
    Source: Vetinfo – Dog Ear Infection Home Remedies
    Source: – Garlic Pet Ear Oil

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