Puppy parents wonder, “Should I be cleaning my dog’s ears?” The answer is definitely yes!  But let’s be honest, most of us aren’t sure where to start, and we (including your dog) might not be eager to do it.  It is a part of doggy parenting that is often overlooked, but very necessary.

How often?

If you’re wondering how often you should be cleaning them, the answer is usually about once a month, but you should check with your vet first.  If you’ve got a swimmer, hunter or a dog that likes to play in the mud you will need to clean them more often.  You should be checking them for dirt and infection daily.  If you see any irritation or an unusual odor, you should get your dog to the vet.  And if your dog is scratching or rubbing on their ears, these are signs of an ear infection and should be taken very seriously.

How can I clean their ears at home safely?

  1. First you’ll need cotton balls and a vet-approved ear cleaner, or wipes like PetMD Ear Wipes.  You can buy ear cleaners from your vet, at most pet-supply stores or even online at retailers like Amazon. Always be sure you get your vet’s approval on any new ear cleaning products you’re adding to your regimen.
  2. Cleaning your dog’s ears can get messy.  We prefer to clean our dog’s ears during or right after his/her bath. It’s especially easy with wipes, as you can simply work your way in (not too far in) with the wipes and then dispose of them.
  3. To clean the ears, if you’re using liquid cleaner recommended by your vet, just  squeeze a little bit of the cleaner into your dog’s ear and let it drip down into the ear canal. Then you can very gently massage the base of the ear for ten to twenty seconds to stir up the cleaner and help it break down any wax and debris. Let your dog shake his head.  Don’t fight their urge to do this!  You can gently put a towel over his head to keep the everything from flying all over you and your bathroom.  If you’re using the wipes,  you just use one wipe/pad at a time to clean the visible parts of the ear, without getting down into the ear canal.
  4. Be sure to also clean the outer ear flap and inside the ear with a clean cotton ball or wipe.  Keep cleaning until your cotton ball or wipe comes out clean.

Will my dog cooperate?

A lot of that depends on your dog’s nature.  Do they work with you, or against, when you groom them?  We recommend starting with a great belly rub and affection, just like you would to comfort them before a bath.  If you’re just unable to get them to let you clean out their ears safely, get them to your vet and ask them to show you how to get it done.  You can also always take your dog to a groomer to get them clean.


4 Replies to “Keeping your dog’s ears clean”

    1. Para,

      Thanks for the comment! Qtips are very small, and can actually cause quite a bit of damage if they are inserted too far. It’s best to use large items like the wipes in the article, or a washcloth, but for personal advice for cleaning your dog’s ears, we recommend you ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the safest way for your pup.


    1. Cherrie,

      Great question! It can impact cleaning and lead to other issues like hard to fight mites and infections. Your best course of action is to consult your veterinarian for advice about keeping them clean and trim.


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