How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

how to clean you dog's ears

It’s common for dog owners to want to clean their dog’s ears as part of a grooming routine, but did you know it’s often not necessary? If you do need to deal with an ear problem, here’s how to clean your dog’s ears safely. 

Do I Need To Clean My Dog’s Ears?

Healthy ears shouldn’t need cleaning. It’s normal for your dog’s inner ear to have a bit of wax and hair to stop dirt or foreign particles from getting further into the ear canal and the eardrums. Healthy, clean dog ears should be pink and odorless.  

Can I Clean My Dog’s Ears Too Often?

Yes. Cleaning your dog’s ears too often disrupts the delicate balance of bacteria in the ear and can lead to skin irritation and inflammation. And if you clean too often, moisture can build up and can lead to ear infections or even hearing problems. 

Signs Your Dog’s Ears Need To Be Cleaned

Like your dog’s gut, his ears, eyes and skin have a microbiome that relies on healthy bacteria to prevent infection. If you notice gunk (wax) in your dog’s ears, it should clear up by itself. If you leave them alone, it’s better for your dog and the natural balance within his ears. 

But if something is bothering him, you’ll see signs like these:

  • Head shaking or tilting
  • Pawing, rubbing or scratching ears
  • Ears are hot to the touch
  • Smelly ears
  • Waxy discharge
  • Irritated ear flap that’s red or even scabby

These signs could be related to having too much wax in his ears or they could be signs of infection. 

Types Of Ear Infections In Dogs

Your dog might have more than a buildup of wax or dirt in his ears. Here’s what it could be. 

Yeast Overgrowth

Yeast is natural in healthy ears, but it can get out of balance causing a yeast infection. 

RELATED:  How to manage dog ear yeast infections …

Bacterial Infection

Your dog can also get bacterial infections in his ear that may produce a bad-smelling yellow or greenish discharge.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are a type of mange that’s very contagious. You’ll see a “coffee ground” discharge and there could be red crustiness. Your dog will usually shake his head and scratch his ear a lot.

Later, we’ll list some home remedies for minor infections. If your dog’s ears need a simple cleaning, here’s how to clean your dog’s ears.

RELATED: Home remedies for ear mites in dogs …

How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

You can do this without taking your dog to your veterinarian or groomer, and you can clean dogs’ ears without solution that can strip away natural bacteria. There are natural options that are less harmful than medicated or veterinary cleaning solutions. 

How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears At Home

How to clean dogs’ ears at home naturally is easier than you think. Here are 5 simple steps. 

  1. To clean dog’s ears at home all you need are cotton balls, gauze, soft cloths or tissues. It’s best to avoid baby wipes as they’re often made with chemicals (that probably shouldn’t be used on babies either). And keep some treats handy to reward your dog. 
  2. You can use a natural home remedy to clean dogs’ ears such as organic witch hazel or olive oil. Just dab a little on a cotton ball (never use a Q-tip!). 
  3. Start with the ear flap and wipe thoroughly. Always use a fresh cloth so you don’t spread debris. 
  4. Move to the inside of each ear and clean gently and carefully. You don’t want to touch anything beyond the outer folds, as that could cause pain or damage. It’s safest not to squirt any topicals into your dog’s ear. 
  5. Dry your dog’s ears with a fresh cloth or cotton pad. 

But if your dog has an infection, you’ll want to use a homemade dog ear cleaner for infections.

How To Clean A Dog’s Ears With Infection 

There are several things you can use as a dog ear cleaner for infections and several can be used for routine ear cleaning too. If your dog’s ears seem irritated or inflamed, try these natural remedies first.  

Calendula Or Comfrey Lotion

Calendula and comfrey lotions both have good healing properties for your dog’s ears. Dab a little on a cotton ball and gently apply as you would for cleaning. Monitor and repeat daily until redness or irritation is gone.

Mullein Oil

Mullein oil is good for cleaning and is often recommended by holistic veterinarians for simple ear infections. Apply it with a cotton ball as instructed above. Some health stores offer a garlic and mullein oil combination – that’s fine too, as long as you don’t mind the garlic smell on your dog. 

These solutions will help with bacteria or parasites. 

Homemade Dog Ear Cleaner For Infections

These are simple home remedies to fight infections in your dog’s ears. But if it’s more than a minor irritation you’ll want to visit your holistic vet as a serious infection can result in hearing loss.

Apple Cider Vinegar

If your dog has a yeast or bacterial infection, it helps to alter the pH (acidity) level in his ears. This homemade dog ear cleaner for infections can correct the pH and kill contaminants. 

Mix 1 cup of lukewarm water and 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Use this to wipe out debris as needed. You can use it more often if you have a dog with ear flaps that hold dirt. 

Olive Oil

Olive oil offers gentle cleaning and is also effective against mites as it smothers them. Apply it every 3 days for 2 weeks to clean away debris, If there are mites, it’ll break up the reproductive cycle. You can also add 1 drop of these essential oils to 1 ounce of olive oil.

  • Peppermint (for numbing effect)
  • Catnip (to control mites)
  • St John’s Wort (for pain relief)
  • Calendula (helps healing)

Garlic Oil 

Garlic oil is an antiparasitic against miles. It’s also antibacterial and antifungal, and can address secondary infections. Apply it twice a day with a cotton ball until the infection subsides. You can make your own by crushing a couple of garlic cloves in a cup of olive oil. Let it sit overnight, then remove the garlic and store the oil in a glass jar. 

Green Tea

Green tea is a natural antiseptic that can also help  get rid of mites. Steep green tea in a cup of water. Let it cool. Dip a cotton ball and gently massage into your dog’s ears. Repeat this daily for 4 weeks. 

RELATED: Natural remedies for dog ear infections …

Only clean your dog’s ears if necessary. But check them regularly so you’ll notice right away if he’s got something more serious going on that you can resolve before it worsens.

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