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How to Clean a Dog's Ears and Avoid Infections!

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How to Clean a Dog's Ears and Avoid Infections!

Cleaning a dog’s ears is important to their health and wellbeing. Anyone that has dealt with dog ear infections knows it’s a smelly and painful problem that is no fun for human or canine! Thankfully, how to clean a dog’s ears to avoid infections is relatively simple, and something dog owners can do themselves with a little knowledge.

What Dog Breeds Need Their Ears Cleaned Regularly?

While all dogs should have their ears checked and cleaned if needed when they are bathed, some dog breeds are more prone to issues and should have their ears cleaned more often. These are breed with “floppy” ears, like the Labrador retriever, cocker spaniel, basset hound, golden retriever, etc. those low-hung ears trap in moisture and dirt, creating a perfect environment for bacteria.

Quick TIP! Floppy eared dogs should have their ears dried with a towel after swimming to help avoid that dampness causing infections.

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears

The steps to cleaning a dog’s ears are simple and relatively risk-free as long as you use the proper tools! To start, make sure you have a:

  • Dog-ear cleaning solution. You can pick these up at the pet store, or if your dog is prone to infection, your vet may prescribe something specific.
  • Cotton ball or gauze bandage. Do not use a cotton-tipped swab to clean your dog’s ears. The ends can cause damage.
  • A towel.

Step 1. This is easiest if you are sitting on the floor with your dog between your legs! Lift the ear flap up to expose down the ear canal. Being careful to not put the tip of the bottle in your dog’s ear, pour cleaner into the ear until it fills the canal – it’s okay if some spills out!

Step 2. Gently massage your dog’s ear at the base with the solution inside for about 30 seconds. This is helping to break up any gunk in there. (If your dog is not sitting still for this, have a helper with treats make this a positive experience!)

Step 3. Using the cotton ball or gauze, gently clean out any gunk from the upper ear canal. Be careful not to push the cotton too deep into the ear.

Step 4. Allow your dog to shake his head to get the rest of the solution out. You can use the towel as a shield to keep it from getting on you and to wipe your dog’s head afterward.

Step 5. Repeat with the other ear!

Things to Watch for When Cleaning Dog Ears

While cleaning your dog’s ears, if you notice a bad smell, red, inflamed ear canal, crusty scabs or dark discharge, your dog needs to see a vet as he may have an ear infection.

Don’t go overboard on cleaning your dog’s ears. Just like with most things, too much of a good thing can be bad. Overcleaning can also cause the very problem you are trying to avoid (ear infections). If you are not sure on frequency for your dog, ask your vet. Frequency can depend on a lot of factors, including history of ear infections, if your dog is swimming/in water a lot, etc. The main thing is to at least check his ears often to look for signs of infection like moisture and smells.

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