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Cleaning Dog Ears – Step By Step, Wipes, Warnings & FAQs

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dog ear cleaning is an important but often neglected aspect of pet care, especially for breeds prone to ear infections.
  • You should use a veterinarian-recommended ear cleanser that does not contain hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, and check for ingredients that can acidify the ear canal.
  • Cotton pads and tweezers can be used to clean the outer parts of the ears, but be careful not to push dirt deeper or cause damage to the ears.
  • Use a towel to minimize mess during the cleaning process, and reward your dog with treats to make them more cooperative.
  • Follow a step-by-step guide to properly clean your dog's ears, including applying the ear cleaning solution, wiping the ears with cotton, and consulting a vet if necessary.
Written by Viena
Viena is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Wednesday 25 November 2020
Last updated on
Thursday 20 July 2023
cleaning dog ears
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As one of the responsible dog owners, you should know how to take care of your pets properly. It is to make sure that they are living healthy and comfortably with you. Unfortunately, there are things that owners usually neglect, and one of them is dog ear cleaning. This task is vital, especially for those dogs who are prone to an ear infection.

Not all dogs need daily cleaning since there are some that have naturally clean and healthy ears. However, other breeds are much more prone to dirt build-up and ear infections. Hence, it is essential to do regular dog ear cleaning and check-ups. This task may be very intimidating, especially if you are a new pet owner and don’t know how to do it properly. Do not worry, though, since you will get all your much-needed information on how to take care of your dog’s ears in this article. So, please continue to read on.

Supplies Needed

Before you do the ear cleaning, you need to make sure that you have the right materials. It is to ensure that you or your dog will not have a problem during or after the cleaning process.

Ear Cleanser

In cleaning your pet’s ears, you should always choose an ear cleanser recommended by the veterinarian. They would know what products are best to use and will not have any adverse reaction to your dog. As much as possible, don’t use any cleanser that has hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. When choosing an ear cleaning solution, you need to check for ingredients that can dry your dog’s ear canal. You can check the cleanser’s components and check if it has boric acid, lactic acid, or acetic acids. Those are only some of the usual ingredients that can acidify the dog’s ear canal.

If you want to use organic products as a cleanser, make sure that you research it carefully. Cleaning dogs’ ears with olive oil is also a possible alternative to chemical products. However, it is still vital to consult your veterinarian regarding this. It is also essential to use a gentle cleanser for your pet and ensure that the product suits your dog’s needs. It is especially true if your pets have ear infections. You can always search online on what best to apply when cleaning a dog ear that has infections. It is wise to ask your veterinarian, especially if your dog has a yeast infection.

Moreover, your vet may suggest the best dog ear cleaners for yeast that would not aggravate your pet’s condition. It would also be best if you remembered that some of these specialized ear cleansers might be a bit costly. Hence, it would help if you prevented infection from happening so that you won’t have to shell out too much for your dog’s need.

Cotton Pads and Tweezers

You may also use a cotton pad and tweezer in cleaning a dogs’ ears. The cotton pad should not be inserted in your dog’s ears as it may just push the dirt deeper inside. It may also cause problems to your dogs’ hearing; that’s why you can only use it in the ear’s outer parts. Just clean the visible dirt using the cotton pads and tweezer while using an ear cleaning solution for the internal components of your dog’s ear.

Tweezers can also be used in clearing out the hair in your dog’s ear canal. You don’t need to remove everything, just a few until you can easily clean the ears properly. By plucking the hair, you will not have a problem applying any medication as well.

cleaning your dog's ears
Tweezers can be used as a dog ear cleaning tool.

A Towel

Since dogs are not usually fans of ear cleaning, a towel can help minimize the mess when you are doing the task. Often, they might go around and shake their head once you put the cleanser on their ears, which can spray the solution all over the place. You can place the towel over the dog’s ears to lessen to avoid this scenario.


After the cleaning session, you can reward your dog for a job well done by giving them treats. It is also vital so that you can make your dog more cooperative during the cleaning process. By giving them treats, you can condition them to associate ear cleaning with a reward using positive reinforcement.

Step by Step Guide to Cleaning Dog Ears

Before you start, make sure you have all the cleaning materials you’ll need. Prepare them in advance to make the task easier. Since dogs usually don’t enjoy having their ears cleaned, it’s important to ensure their comfort before proceeding.

In addition, it’s best to perform the entire procedure outside or in a bathroom. Cleaning your dog’s ears can get messy, so choose a location that is easy to clean afterward. By ensuring your dog has a pleasant experience, you’ll encounter fewer difficulties when doing it again. To ensure proper cleaning of your dog’s ears, follow these step-by-step guides:

Anatomy of a canine ear (via MSDVETMANUAL)

Step 1: Apply the Ear Cleaning Solution

Once the two of you are comfortable, you can now do the next procedure, which is applying the ear cleaning solution. Hold the ears with your fingers if it’s not erect and put the ear cleaning solution gently. Fill your dog’s ear canal while massaging the base of the ear for half a minute.

It’s okay if the solution spills as long as it fills the dog’s ear completely. Remember not to let the tip of the cleaning solution touch your dog’s ear. It is vital to prevent any spread of yeast or bacteria to the cleaning solution. If the cleaning solution gets in contact, make sure to wipe it with a clean cotton pad or tissue with alcohol.

Some dog owners shift to other cleaning solution such as hydrogen peroxide since it may have antiseptic properties. However, it can help if you asked your vet on how to clean dog ears with hydrogen peroxide. The substance may be harmful to your dog if not administered properly. If you can afford other veterinarians approve cleanser, it would be safer to stop using this chemical to ensure that your pet will not have ear issues.

Step 2: Wipe Your Dog’s Ears with Cotton

Once you are done with the cleaning solution, your dog can naturally expel it by shaking its head. You can then use the towel to wipe off any excess cleaning solution that is sprayed. You can also wipe any debris or dirt that came out of the dog’s ears.

After that, hold the dog’s ears and check for contaminants. Use a cotton ball to clean the outer part of the ear. Remember to do it only in the outer part, or you might damage the dog’s ears. Once it’s cleaned, you can go to the next ear and repeat the process.

Be gentle when wiping your dog and make the experience more comfortable for them. You also have to be extra careful, especially if your dog is in heat. The pups can also become more agitated in this phase, so you need patience while cleaning their ears.

Step 3: Give Your Dog a Treat

One way on how to clean dogs’ ears when they hate it is by giving them treats. Once the cleaning process is done in both ears, you can give your pet its favorite treat. It may help them recognized that they can get rewards by letting you clean their ears.

Step 4: Consult Your Vet if Needed

Although you finish the whole process, you still need to check your dog’s reaction. If you feel that something is wrong or the dog is in pain, you need to get a consultation from your vet. Check also if your dog’s ears are red or have a bad smell during or after the cleaning, this scenario can indicate if they have an ear infection.

Remember to consult your pet doctor for any problem so they can check on it immediately. If you let things untreated for some time, it may lead to more severe problems. In case your dog already has a disease, it’s better to ask someone knowledgeable on how to clean a dog’s ears with infection.

3 Best Dog Ear Wipes

Dog ear wipes can help in keeping your dog’s ears cleaned. It also has other benefits that you will definitely like. The ear wipes listed here are some of the best in the market, please check it out.

1. Earthbath Ear Wipes

No products found.

This ear wipe is recommended to your pet dog to ensure that his ears will be free from any discharge and wax. Getting rid of those things will prevent your dog from getting an infection or bad odor. Since it is made purely for pets, you can be sure that it is safe and will not harm your dog.

Aside from that, this ear wipe has witch hazel, which has astringent properties that can dry out your dog’s ear canal. It also has other plant extracts that will help in removing the bad smells. The ingredients used in the ear wipes are all-natural, and it also has a balanced pH.

Additionally, it has a cute and functional container, and you will not have a hard time getting your wipe every time you need it.

2. Zesty Paws Cleaning Wipes

Make sure that your pet dog is always comfortable by using this ear wipe to clean off any dirt and wax in his ears. This wipe has aloe vera, oatmeal, coconut oil, and chamomile to relieve your dog’s irritation. Aside from that, the ingredients can safely clean and gently remove wax and dirt. You don’t need to worry that they get irritated using this since it’s very safe to use.

The oatmeal even has a cooling effect that will surely be loved by your dog. There is a lavender scent as well that will give a calming effect. The ingredients used in the wipes can also remove bad odor.

This wipe is surely a perfect product for dog ear wax removal.

3. Pet MD Aloe Vera & Eucalyptus Dog Ear Wipes

Do you need effective ear wipes that can solve your dog’s ear problems? If you do, then get these wipes since it’s quality is very good, and veterinarian-approved. The formulation used in the wipes is scientifically studied and developed to produce a product that can quickly and safely clean your dog’s ears. You don’t have to worry anymore about any dirt or wax since these wipes can gently remove it.

Wipes can also reduce any bad smell, and you don’t need to worry about infection as well. The formulation is very gentle, it doesn’t have any alcohol, and the dog will not feel any sting using the wipes. With the use of aloe vera and eucalyptus oil, the ear cleaning wipes are a great product compared to other wipes in the market.

Use cleaning wipes on your dog’s ears in the outer parts of the ears only. Avoid any contact with the eye. This product is suggested for dogs over three months old.

Tips & Warnings for Cleaning Dog Ears

Aside from the steps on how to properly clean your dog’s ears, you will also find some helpful tips and warnings here. These will provide you with additional information to ensure you take good care of your beloved dogs. It’s important to have an idea of what can happen to prevent any unnecessary problems from occurring.

Use the Right Cleaning Solution

As mentioned earlier, it is essential to use the right cleaning solution to clean your dog’s ears. However, some questions are popping out everywhere about the proper cleaning material for your dogs. As an example, people ask how to clean dog ears with vinegar?

Some people say that you can use a vinegar solution, a mixture of ⅔ water and ⅓ vinegar to clean your dog’s ears. Although vinegar is readily available and much cheaper than an ear cleaning solution, it is still not advisable as a cleaning solution for your dog’s ear.

This vinegar solution might harm dogs with sensitive ears. It is still preferable to use a cleaning solution for dog ear cleaning. You can consult your vet for an alternative if you’re looking for cheaper options.

Keep Your Dog Calm

In cleaning a dog’s ears, it is crucial to make them calm since they might get hurt if they are too agitated. Introduce them to the materials you will use and on the process as well. In this way, both of you will not have a problem cleaning their ears.

Offer Treats

Don’t forget to give your dog treats while you are introducing the procedure and after the cleaning process. This method can also make them calmer when you do the next ear cleaning session with them.

Use a Cotton Swab

It is not prudent to use cotton swabs in cleaning your dog’s ears. It will only push the dirt further inside, which is not what you want to do. Using the swabs can also hurt the ear’s internal part that may cause hearing problems for your dog. You may use a cotton pad or ball to clean the outer part of the dog’s ears.

If you can see brown dirt discharge from your dog’s ears, it means that your dog might have ear mites. Although this ear mite is small, it can become a big problem if you will not take care of it immediately. Your dog might also be in pain, which is shown by shaking their heads or scratching their ears. To fix the problem, you will need to contact your vet to give you medication and other things.

For inner ear infection, the symptoms are almost the same. They will have painful ears and will have a problem with balancing. To treat the problem, the vet may give them antibiotics, and for severe cases, the dog might need surgery.

consult your vet for ear problems
Always consult with your vet if you notice any problems.

About Dog Ear Cleaning Dog

To help you more in cleaning your dog’s ears, here are some answers to the questions you might have.

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

There are mild cleaners available in the market. It’s best to avoid alcohol, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide since it can irritate some dogs. Additionally, it is better to get cleaners approved or recommended by your veterinarian. They could even give you a product that is perfect for preventing bacteria or yeast.

What is the brown stuff in my dog’s ears?

From ear wax to an infection, the material could be multiple things. Aside from ear mites, there are also other reasons why there is a dog ear discharge. That is an outer and inner ear infection. The outer ear infection shows a red, yellow, or brownish discharge. It can also have a bad smell and can make your dog’s ear red.

Do I need to clean my dog’s ears?

Cleaning a dog’s ear is very important to keep them healthy and happy. However, do not forget that overdoing it is also wrong and can start an infection. It’s better to do a check-up with your veterinarian first before you clean your fur ball’s ears.

How do I clean my dog’s ears when they smell?

There are dog ear cleaning solutions available to help you clean and remove dirt, wax, and bad smell. However, don’t forget to ask your vet to check your dog’s ears. There might be yeast, bacterial, or mixed infection that the vet needs to cure and get rid of the stink.

Grooming your fur baby is one of the responsibilities of the owner. By knowing and understanding their need, it ensures that you can take care of them properly. Hopefully, this article can help you be more ease when grooming or cleaning your dog’s ears.

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