best way to clean dog's ears

Dog owners often wonder whether they should clean their dog’s ears. Yes, you should. Dog ear cleaning is often overlooked among all the grooming tasks, but it’s important for many dogs. In addition to maintaining cleanliness, it helps detect potential problems or ear infections for your dog. So, what is the best way to clean dog’s ears?

You can easily clean your dog’s ears at home if you follow a few simple steps. If you’re new to this practice, you may need assistance getting started. In this guide, we’ll explore the best way to clean dog ears. Let’s learn how to clean dog ears and keep them healthy.

Signs of Dirty Dog Ears That Need Cleaning

check your dog ears carefully

The best way to maintain your dog’s overall ear health is to know when to clean their ears. These are some signs that your dog’s ears need cleaning:

Excessive Scratching or Pawing at the Ears

When your dog frequently scratches or paws at their ears, it may indicate irritation or discomfort. It can be caused by dirt, wax, or moisture buildup.

Head-Shaking or Tilting

An itch or discomfort in the ears may cause dogs to vigorously shake their heads or tilt them to one side. Shaking the head may help dislodge debris, but it can also signal an inflammation or infection in the ear.

Unpleasant odor

If your dog’s ears emit a strong, unpleasant odor, it could indicate an infection or debris buildup. Addressing this as soon as possible is the best way to prevent further complications.

Redness or Swelling

If you visually inspect your dog’s ears, you may notice redness, swelling, or inflammation, especially around the ear canal. These symptoms often accompany ear infections or allergic reactions and require veterinary attention.

Discharge or Excessive Ear Wax

An ear discharge, such as a clear fluid or pus-like substance, may indicate infection or underlying issues. Similarly, excessive ear wax buildup can cause your dog blockages and discomfort.

If you spot these signs early on, you can immediately prevent ear problems from worsening. You should regularly monitor and clean your dog’s ears to avoid ear problems. Now let’s take a look at how to clean dog’s ears.

What is the Best Way to Clean Dog’s Ears

Best Way to Clean Dog's Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears can be hassle-free and straightforward with the right approach and technique. To ensure thorough and gentle ear cleaning for your dog, follow these steps:

Preparation for Ear Cleaning

Before you clean your dog’s ears, you must gather the necessary supplies and prepare yourself and your pet. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ear Cleaner Solution

Ensure your dog’s ear cleaner is veterinarian-approved and specifically formulated for dogs. Don’t use harsh chemicals or alcohol-based products.

Cotton Balls or Pads

Clean your dog’s ears with soft cotton balls or pads to remove dirt, wax, and excess cleaner. You shouldn’t use cotton swabs (Q-tips) because they can push debris further into the ear canal.

Treats or Rewards

You can reward your dog for cooperating by having some of their favorite treats on hand. Your pet will enjoy the experience more if you give them positive reinforcement.

When you have your supplies, find a quiet and comfortable place where you and your dog can relax. Consider placing a non-slip mat on the floor to stabilize and prevent slips or falls.

Gentle Restraint

When you begin cleaning, gently restrain your dog so they don’t move around too much. You need to ensure your dog feels secure and relaxed during the procedure.

Inspect the Ears

Inspect your dog’s ears carefully for redness, swelling, discharge, or foul odor. If necessary, you can use a flashlight to check the ear canal for foreign objects and excessive wax buildup. Before cleaning, note any abnormalities or areas of concern.

Apply Ear Cleaner Solution

Hold your dog’s ear flap gently and lift it upward to expose the ear canal. Pour a little bit of ear cleaner solution into the ear canal, being careful not to insert it too deep. Now, massage the base of the ear for about 20-30 seconds to distribute the cleaner and loosen any dirt or debris.

Wipe Away Debris

After massaging the ear, wipe away any loosened debris, wax, or excess cleaner with a soft cotton ball or pad. Avoid using too much force or pushing the cotton too far into the ear canal.

Repeat if Necessary

Depending on the buildup and cleanliness, you might have to repeat the cleaning process for the other ear. Make sure you clean each ear thoroughly with fresh cotton balls or pads.

Reward Your Dog

Praise and reward your dog for their patience and cooperation after ear cleaning. Treat them or do a favorite activity to reinforce positive associations with ear cleaning.

Here’s how to clean your dog’s ears and keep them healthy by following these steps.

The Best Tips for Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

You should prioritize the comfort and safety of your dog when cleaning his ears. Here are some additional tips to make ear cleaning as safe and successful as possible:

Use Lukewarm Water for Sensitive Ears

Consider using lukewarm water instead of an ear cleaner solution if your dog has sensitive ears. This may help prevent irritation and discomfort, particularly if your dog has sensitive skin.

Seek Veterinary Guidance for Persistent Issues

Seek veterinary guidance for persistent issues if needed

If your dog has persistent ear problems or chronic ear infections, it’s essential to consult your veterinary doctor. They can give you expert advice, recommend specialized ear cleaners, or perform a thorough exam to find out what’s wrong.

Avoid Deep Insertion into the Ear Canal

Whenever you clean your dog’s ears, be careful not to insert cotton balls too deeply. Don’t forget to clean the outer ear and ear canal.

Never Use Q-tips

Using Q-tips to clean your dog’s ears can cause pain, injury, or infection, as the tips can break off and get stuck in the ear canal. Instead, you should clean your ears gently and safely with cotton balls or pads.

Be Patient and Gentle

If your dog is anxious or resistant to ear cleaning, approach it with patience and gentleness. Take breaks, speak soothingly, offer reassurance, and treat your pet.

Establish a Regular Ear Cleaning Routine

Maintain a regular ear cleaning routine for your dog, ideally once a week or as your vet recommends. You need consistency to keep your ears healthy and prevent infections.


What can I use to clean my dog’s ears at home?

You can clean dogs’ ears with a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaner solution. These solutions gently and effectively remove dirt, wax, and debris from your dog’s ears. Avoid homemade remedies and over-the-counter products that aren’t specifically designed for dog ear cleaning. 

They may contain ingredients that can irritate your dog. Use soft cotton balls or pads to gently wipe away debris from the outer ear and visible parts of the ear canal. Consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

How often should I clean my dog’s ears?

Ideally, you should clean your dog’s ears once a week as part of their regular grooming routine. The frequency of ear cleaning will depend on your dog’s breed, ear shape, and any existing ear issues. Dogs with floppy ears or a history of ear infections may need more frequent cleanings, while others may need less. 

Check your dog’s ears regularly for buildup, irritation, or infection, and adjust the frequency of cleaning as needed. Your vet can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s needs.

Can I use baby wipes to clean dog ears?

Using baby wipes on dogs can disrupt their skin’s pH balance, leading to issues like skin infections and dryness. Dogs’ skin has a different pH level than humans’, so products made for humans might not work on them. 

Use vet-approved ear cleaners for dogs to avoid irritation and maintain their skin’s natural balance. Consult your veterinarian if you’re worried about your dog’s ear hygiene for advice on safe and effective methods.

Can I use Vaseline to clean my dog’s ears?

Pet owners should avoid using Vaseline on their dogs’ ears. It’s a synthetic, petroleum-based product designed for human use, and it doesn’t moisturize dry skin well. Additionally, it can clog pores, leading to infection. You should use ear cleaners designed for dogs that are veterinarian-approved. 

These solutions are specially formulated to remove wax and debris without harming your dog. Consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s ear hygiene or skin health.

Can I use salt water to clean my dog’s ears?

While you can clean your dog’s infected ears at home, exercise caution. Avoid cotton buds, which push debris deeper into the ear canal and worsen the situation. Instead, opt for a saline solution

You can make this solution by boiling water, letting it cool, and adding salt. The saline solution can help clean infected ears and give them some relief. If the infection persists or gets worse, you should take your dog to the veterinarian.

Read More: Yeast Dermatitis In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The Takeaway

The cleanliness of your dog’s ears is crucial to their health. Understanding the signs and following the best way to clean dog’s ears above will ensure their comfort and health. Maintain optimal ear hygiene by using veterinarian-approved solutions and proactive monitoring. If concerns arise, seek guidance as soon as possible. 

Frank Washington

I'm passionate about canine wellness, particularly skin health. Drawing on years of experience and ongoing research, I hope to provide useful insights and practical tips to help dog owners ensure their pets have a vibrant, healthy coat. As a proponent of natural and holistic care, I founded as a resource center for fellow dog lovers looking to nourish their pet's skin from the inside out.