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  • Jennifer Misfeldt, MABTR

Cleaning A Dog's Ears

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

There are four things to know when it comes to ears that you need to follow

· clean ears using rubbing alcohol, NOT ear cleaner (rubbing alcohol evaporates)

· know how to properly clean ears (see instructions below)

· ears should be cleaned once every two weeks

· recognize signs of discomfort or infection to catch any problems early (scratching the ear, shaking of the head, yelping when ear is touched, inside of ear smells and/or red)

- have a spare tube of ear medication in your refrigerator.

- Apply medication as soon as you recognize a potential ear infection. Being proactive will reduce treatment to three to four days. Waiting till it becomes a major program will extend treatment out to 10 to 14 days plus possibly the need for a steroid shot and visit at the vet office

Your dog’s ear is more L-shaped than yours, and debris loves to collect at the corner of the L. Dirty ears are common for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, have allergies, or an ear infection. Depending on your dog’s ear condition, you may have to start out doing this once a week. For dogs that have seasonal allergies they are prone to ear infections.

To clean ears properly follow these steps. Remember you can always go to your vet or a groomers because if you are nervous so will the dog be.

1. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and squeeze excess liquid before placing in your dog’s ear canal. Ear cleaners are NOT recommended

2. Massage the base of the ear for 15 seconds to soften and release the debris.

3. Remove the wet dirty cotton ball.

4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you see no more debris on the cotton ball.

5. Place a dry cotton ball into the ear to collect any moisture.

6. Cotton swabs/Q-tips can be used to clean the inside of the ear flap and the part of the ear canal you can see. They should NOT be used farther down in the ear canal since that tends to pack debris in the ear canal, rather than removing it.

Some ear problems are so painful the dog must be anesthetized to do a good job of cleaning the ears. You may find your dog does not like to have his ears cleaned because it is uncomfortable. Talking to him during the process, stopping momentarily to give him a treat if he is doing well (we do not want to reward fussiness!) and doing something fun afterwards will all help.

After the ear is clean, let the dog shake his head and allow some time for the ears to dry. Then you can apply any ear medication that was prescribed should an infection exist.


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