How to Clean Dogs' Ears

Big, standing ears invite all the dirt and grime to come play inside.
i small dog, big ears image by Lars Christensen from

Ear cleanings, despite the uncomfortable pouring of cleaning solution, the annoying wiping of discharge and standing still for a few minutes, aren't all doom and gloom for your pup. He'll feel better and have a reduced chance of ear infections, plus he gets a free massage out of the ordeal.

Step 1

Shake the ear cleaning solution bottle in a room separate from your dog. Most solutions require a good 10-second shaking before using. If your dog isn't a fan of ear cleaning, he may associate the shaking noise with an impending ear cleanse, which can cause him to scurry away when you shake anything, even a gallon of chocolate milk.

Step 2

Tell your pup to sit. Make him feel relaxed by using a gentle voice and appearing at ease, rather than sounding stern and looming over him. You want your dog to think something great is about to happen.

Step 3

Grab one of his ears with your fingers and lift it so you can see into it. Pour the ear solution into your pup's ear per the manufacturer's directions, which usually is a few drops on the outermost of the inside ear and a few drops into the ear canal. You may need to lower the bottle into the ear slightly for the solution to find its way into the canal.

Step 4

Massage his entire ear from the top to the base with your fingers for about 10 to 15 seconds. Some dogs will thrash their head, while others make funny grunting noises. Be gentle with your massage, especially for breeds whose ears stand up. If their ears still are floppy when they're a puppy, you might damage them so that they remain that way if you massage too hard.

Step 5

Turn on your head-mounted light to brighten your dog's ear. Ball up a tissue and wipe out any excess moisture and dirt that you spot. You may use a cotton ball instead. Most dogs don't mind this part, but they're not overly fond of it either. Reassure your pup by praising him when he remains calm.

Step 6

Praise your dog, give him a treat and make a huge deal out of the cleaning once you're done. You want your pup to think of an ear cleaning as spa-like treatment, rather than a dreaded meeting with tissues and cotton balls.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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