How To Clean A Dog’s Ears

Wait… I need to clean my dog’s ears!?

It’s a question frequently asked by new and existing dog owners across the world, and the answer is, surprisingly, yes!

Often overlooked, ear cleaning should in fact be an essential part of every dog owner’s grooming routine, as it can help prevent a myriad of upsetting issues for your pup.

Just like humans, dogs can occasionally suffer from painful ear infections due to a build-up of wax and oils inside the ear. Worryingly, this can then also put them at risk of developing genuine hearing damage, and so it’s vital that any dog owner knows how to properly polish their pup’s lugs!

While it may seem daunting, cleaning a dog’s ears is actually a simple and straightforward process, and could well save you some costly trips to the vet should you make it routine.

So don’t worry if you’re not even sure where to start, as we’ve put together an easy-to-follow and effortless guide to help make ear cleaning your dog a doddle!

how to clean long eared dogs

How to clean a dog’s ears

What you will need:

  • Dog Ear CleanerPick an ear cleaner specifically for dogs and approved by a veterinarian
  • Cotton wool/pads – These will help wipe away any excess solution in your dog’s ear
  • A towel – Dogs will often want to shake their heads following treatment, causing the liquid to fly here, there and everywhere! A towel can help minimise this mess
  • Dog Treats – Neither you nor your dog is likely to particularly enjoy the experience of ear cleaning, so make sure you have treats on hand to reward them for good behaviour

Before you clean a dog’s ears

Prior to your plan of action, you’ll want to give your dog’s ears a thorough inspection to ensure they are healthy and free from infection.

You should be on the lookout for standard ear infections, as well as any possible infestation of ear mites, a parasitic issue that can be very irritating and painful for your pup:

How to spot a dog ear infection:

  • Scratching or head shaking from your dog
  • Foul-smelling, unusually coloured ear discharge
  • In-ear lumps with coffee grounds appearance (Ear mites)
  • Thick back or red crusts and scratches in and around the ear

If you spot any of these symptoms, your dog will need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. They may need specialist antibiotics to clear up any bacterial or fungal infections as well as kill off parasites.

Dog ear cleaning: step by step guide

  1. To begin, gently lift your dog’s ears and begin to cleanse the area with a damp cotton pad. This will remove any dirt or excess wax from your dog’s ear canal
  2. Insert the tip of your dog’s ear cleaner into the ear canal, being careful not to insert it too far. Then administer the correct amount of solution into the ear
  3. Massage the base of your dog’s ear with your fingers. This will help the solution pass easily into the ear canal
  4. Release the ear and allow your dog to shake their head. This is where having a towel comes in handy, as you can prevent cleanser from flying everywhere by holding it over their head
  5. Wipe away any excess cleaner with damp cotton wool
  6. Treat and Repeat. Reward your pup for being such a good girl/boy with a tasty treat and then do the same process again on the other earvet inspects dogs ears

How often should I clean my dog’s ears?

Once a month should be enough for most dogs, as the majority of canines only need semi-regular ear cleansing. However certain types of pup may need more frequent attention devoted to their ears!


Droopy-eared or dogs with hairy ears tend to be more prone to yeast infections and dogs that love to swim have a higher risk of contracting infections due to moisture becoming trapped in the ear canal. To prevent this from happening, these types of dogs should have their ears cleaned around twice a month.

What to do if your dog doesn’t like their ears being cleaned

Keeping a dog still for longer than 30 seconds can be a near-impossible task, especially if you suddenly start pouring cleanser into their ear! That’s why it’s important to try and create a relaxing and calm environment for your dog and make sure the process is as comfortable as possible.

However, some pups will always put up a fight when it comes to ear cleaning!

To determine how receptive your pup will be to the process, begin gently stroking their ears to see if there is any negative reaction. If that alone appears to irritate them, then it’s probably best to avoid getting into a struggle. Instead, take them to a vet to have the procedure done professionally.

If your dog is a puppy, get them used to having their ears cleaned from an early stage. Touch their ears, look inside them and use the ear cleaner from around six months old, or before if your vet recommends this.

Dog ear cleaning tips

A lot of dog owners may be tempted to use a cotton bud to help clean every nook and cranny of their dog’s ears. However, if inserted too far into the ear canal, it can be incredibly damaging! The same applies to humans of course.

Therefore it’s best not to use cotton buds at all, and to instead stick to cotton wool or pads.

It can also be difficult to determine how much ear solution to use, but the rule is to follow instructions. Usually, it can seem like a lot is recommended, but it is important to follow guidelines to ensure your dog gets a thorough and deep clean!