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Do you know how to clean your dog’s ears? Many dogs need help keeping their ears clean. Cleaning your dog’s ears is a great way to keep them healthy and can be an easy part of their normal at home grooming. There are a few things to know before you set out to clean those cute ears. This is why Westarbor Animal Hospital wants to make you aware of the safe and effective way to do the job.

Those Sensitive Ears

It’s important to understand more about the anatomy of your dog’s ears before you clean them. This helps in avoiding damaging or injuring the ear during cleaning. While all dogs benefit from periodic ear cleaning, certain dogs with floppy ears or lots of fur will need more frequent cleaning. Here’s why…

The outside flap of the ear is referred to as the pinna. When the flap stands upright, there is more airflow to the ear canal and less of a need to clean. Ears that fold over are more susceptible to debris and dirt remaining trapped in the canal.

Inside your dog’s ear is the canal, which contains the external (outer portion) of the canal and the internal canal which angles horizontally. There are glands that secrete oil to lubricate and trap foreign bodies in the external portion of the canal.

The external ear contains the eardrum which vibrates to sound and contributes to hearing. Beyond the eardrum is the middle or inner ear that helps with balance and hearing. This is the area most sensitive to injury.

How to Safely Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Your first order of business is to find a good quality ear cleanser that is safe for dogs. We use EpiKlean by Dechra but there are many good solutions on the market. These solutions break down the debris and ear wax, making it easier for you to clean your pup’s ears. Along with your solution, get some gauze or cotton balls to dab away the solution and clean the outer ears.


  1. Find a time when your dog is relaxed, such as after exercise, a meal, or a nap.
  2. Gather your ear cleaning supplies as well as a few treats to give afterward.
  3. Position your dog so that they are seated in front of you or on a counter (if they are small).
  4. Squeeze a little of the ear solution in your dog’s ear canal, then massage the pinna or ear flap at the base of the ear for a few seconds. Let your dog shake their head to get the excess solution out.
  5. Using your cotton balls, dab around the ear canal and external (visible) portion of the canal and clean inside the ear as far as your finger with the cotton pad fits. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Reward your pet for a job well done with some treats.

It may be tempting to use a Q-tip to clean the ears, but don’t. These can too easily damage the inner ear and they are uncomfortable or painful for your dog. While you are cleaning your dog’s ears, take note of any unusual smell, discharge, redness, etc. and call us if you see any abnormal symptoms.

We hope this overview of how to clean your dog’s ears has been helpful. We’re always happy to instruct you when you and your furry friend are in for their next wellness examination. Please feel free to call us with questions or to schedule an appointment.

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