How Do I Clean a Dog’s Ears?

white dog standing showing his ear

How Do I Clean a Dog’s Ears? To clean a dog’s ears, gently wipe the outer ear with a damp cloth, use a vet-approved ear cleaner, and avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal.

Regular ear cleaning helps maintain your dog’s ear health and prevent infections.

Why Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears is Important

  • Preventing Infections: Regular ear cleaning helps prevent infections by removing dirt, wax, and debris that can accumulate in your dog’s ears. Ear infections can be painful and lead to more serious health issues if left untreated.
  • Maintaining Ear Health: Cleaning your dog’s ears helps maintain overall ear health by reducing the risk of buildup and allowing you to monitor for signs of problems such as redness, swelling, or discharge.

Steps to Clean a Dog’s Ears

  • Gather Your Supplies: Before you start, gather all the necessary supplies such as vet-approved ear cleaner, cotton balls or pads, towel, and treats for your dog
  • Inspect the Ears: Before cleaning, inspect your dog’s ears for any signs of infection or irritation. Look for redness, swelling, foul odor, or discharge. If you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinarian before proceeding.
  • Clean the Outer Ear: Gently wipe the outer ear with a damp cloth or cotton pad to remove any dirt or debris. Be gentle and avoid pushing any dirt further into the ear canal.
  • Apply Ear Cleaner: Pour a few drops of vet-approved ear cleaner into your dog’s ear canal. Be sure to follow the instructions on the ear cleaner’s label for the correct amount.
  • Massage the Ear: Gently massage the base of your dog’s ear for about 20-30 seconds to help the ear cleaner work its way into the ear canal and loosen any debris.
  • Let Your Dog Shake: Allow your dog to shake its head, which helps dislodge the loosened debris and cleaner from the ear canal.
  • Wipe the Inner Ear: Use a cotton ball or pad to gently wipe the inner part of the ear, avoiding the ear canal. Do not insert anything deep into the ear canal, as this can cause injury or push debris further in.
  • Reward Your Dog: After cleaning, reward your dog with treats and praise to create a positive association with ear cleaning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?

Black and White Border Collie Shaking Off Water

For most dogs, cleaning their ears once a month is sufficient. However, some dogs may need more frequent cleaning, especially if they have long ears or are prone to ear infections. Clean your dog’s ears more frequently if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Head shaking: Frequent head shaking can indicate that your dog is trying to dislodge something irritating in its ears, such as wax, dirt, or an infection. If your dog is shaking its head more than usual, it might be time for an ear cleaning.
  • Scratching at the ears: If your dog is scratching its ears excessively, it could be a sign of discomfort or itchiness caused by wax buildup, dirt, or an infection. Regular ear cleaning can help alleviate this irritation.
  • Unusual odor: A foul or unusual odor coming from your dog’s ears can be a sign of infection. Regular cleaning can help prevent infections and keep your dog’s ears smelling fresh.
  • Visible dirt or wax buildup: If you notice visible dirt or wax buildup in your dog’s ears, it’s a clear sign that they need to be cleaned. Regular cleaning helps prevent excessive buildup and maintains ear health.

For more information on identifying ear problems and preventive care, visit our detailed articles about Why Is My Dog Shaking?

When to Consult a Veterinarian

If your dog shows signs of persistent ear problems, such as chronic infections or irritation, consult your veterinarian.

They can provide a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatment.

For severe cases or if you are uncomfortable cleaning your dog’s ears yourself, seek professional help from your veterinarian or a professional groomer.


Regular ear cleaning is essential for maintaining your dog’s ear health and preventing infections.

By following these steps and keeping an eye out for any signs of problems, you can help ensure your dog stays happy and healthy.