Your pet’s ears are very important, and, as a pet owner, it is vital that you take good care of them. Most dog owners should be cleaning his or her dog’s ears on a regular basis to maintain good hygiene and make themselves familiar with any early signs of problems. If you have a pet who is prone to ear problems, you may need to be cleaning more often.

Many dog owners are not comfortable with cleaning their pet’s ears, however; and many more may have never been shown how to do it properly. Keep reading to learn how to clean dog ears like a pro!

Know Thy Dog’s Ears

In order to be comfortable in cleaning your pet’s ears, it is important to understand a little basic anatomy. Your dog’s ear consists of:

  • The pinna (ear flap)
  • The external ear
  • The middle ear
  • The inner ear

The pinna and external ear canal funnel sound to the eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane) which divides the external ear canal from the middle ear. This area is air filled and contains the Eustachian tube that drains the middle ear into the back of the throat. The inner ear contains nerves that communicate with the brain and controls balance and hearing.

Dogs have a very long, “L” shaped ear canal that makes a sharp bend. This bend makes it very hard to damage the protected eardrum while cleaning the ear (unless you use something very slim such as a cotton swab). When we are cleaning the ears with fingers, we are safe because our fingers are perfect for cleaning the external ear but too large to reach the eardrum.

Gather Your Supplies

You will only need a few things to clean your pet’s ears. Be sure to gather them up before starting so that you have everything you need:

  • An ear wash solution as recommended by your pet’s doctor
  • Cotton balls
  • Your dog
  • A helper if your dog is not cooperative

Ear cleaning can potentially be a bit messy at times. It might be prudent to change into clothes that can get dirty. Try to perform the ear cleaning in an area that is easy to clean up.

How to Clean Dog Ears

Now you are ready to begin. While many people are intimidated and have little instruction on how to clean dog ears, it really isn’t too hard. Go ahead and:

  • Observe – Before you begin, take a good look at your pet’s ear. If there are sores on the pinna, excessive redness, a bad odor, lots of discharge, or the ear seems uncomfortable you should stop and have your pet examined. There may be an infection or other problem that could make ear cleaning painful.
  • Apply the solution – Squeeze the ear cleaning solution directly into the ear canal by inserting the tip of the bottle just a few millimeters down into the canal. You might put a few drops on the pinna as well. Don’t force the tip in or squeeze too forcefully, as this can damage the eardrum. Allow your pet to shake his or her head if he or she wants to remove the excess. You can then massage the base of the ear to work the solution throughout the ear canal and you may hear a squishing sound.
  • Use your cotton balls – Use clean cotton balls to gently remove loosened discharge from the ear canal and inside of the ear flap. Continue until the cotton ball comes out clean.

The Question of Q-Tips

Some people use Q-Tip cotton swabs to clean dirt from crevices. We don’t recommend using them because of the potential to reach and damage your dog’s eardrum, plus they can pack wax deep inside the ear.

How often a pet needs his or her ears cleaned depends on a variety of factors including breed, type of skin/coat, age, activities, and ear wax production. We generally recommend every week to every other week but we’re happy to talk to you about what’s right for your dog and the type of solution that would work best for your pet.

Please feel free to contact Union Lake Pet Services with any questions or concerns regarding your dog’s care and health. We are here to help.