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Step-by-Step Guide to Deep Ear Cleaning for Dogs

Our canine companions can experience discomfort and health issues if their ears are neglected. Today, our Bartlett vets explore why dog ear cleaning is essential and how to clean your dog's ears.

Why Do I Need To Deep Clean My Dog's Ears?

A dog's ears are more sensitive than they might seem. Regular cleaning can help to keep your pup's ears healthy and prevent a range of issues that can lead to discomfort and recurring infections, such as:

  • Ear infections. These are caused by bacteria and yeast and can occur if your dog's ears harbor excessive moisture, dirt, or wax accumulation.
  • Ear mites, which are tiny parasites that make their home inside our furry friend's ears, leading to intense itching, inflammation, and discomfort.
  • Allergy-related Irritation, which can make your four-legged friend's ears red and sore. 
  • Foreign objects such as grass seeds or debris. These can make their way into your pup's ears and lead to discomfort.

Does My Dog Need Deep Ear Cleaning?

If your dog's ears are healthy, they will likely enjoy having their ears rubbed. If they’re tender from an infection, they will probably pull away from you and won't want to have them touched. Just gently massaging your dog’s ears is a great first step toward checking their condition. If you notice that your furry friend is sensitive about having their ears touched, it’s time to take a closer look, and is likely time to clean them.

Contact your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment if you notice any of the following signs of infection:

  • Redness in the ear canal
  • Swelling
  • Foul odor
  • Excessive dark brown, yellow-green, and/or bloody discharge
  • Scratching the ears or face
  • Pain on contact
  • Head shaking

How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?

There is no simple answer to this question. Different ear types make some dogs more susceptible to ear infections than others and therefore require more frequent cleaning. 

Dogs with large floppy ears are more likely to get moisture or debris trapped in their ears, which can lead to more irritation and infections. Other breeds are prone to excessive hair in their ear canals, increased ear wax production, underlying allergic disease, and/or very narrow ear canals—all of which can require more frequent cleanings. Dogs without any of these issues can usually get by with a cleaning every one to two months.

Some dogs may never need to have their ears cleaned, so it's important to check with your veterinarian before you begin cleaning your dog's ears. If your pup's ears are clean and healthy, introducing cleaner into the canal could cause more harm than good. Dog ears are tiny, well-balanced, ecosystems. If your companion's ears stay healthy naturally, it may be best to leave them alone. Your vet can advise you on what the best course of action is regarding your dog's ears.

What Do I Need to Clean My Dog's Ears?

If your dog's ears are in need of. a good scrub, here are the "tools" you'll need to have on hand to get the most out of your cleaning:

  • Dog ear cleaning solution
  • Cotton gauze, cotton balls, or squares
  • High-value treats
  • Dog ear wipes or pads (optional)

When and How Should I Deep Clean My Dog's Ears?

When you are deciding on a time to undertake dog deep ear cleaning it's important to choose a time when your pup is calm, relaxed, and has used up most of their energy through play or exercise. Start slow with the process and never force your dog to participate as many dogs can become uncomfortable and even fearful, especially if their ear is bothering them. 

Work through the steps below, offering plenty of treats and praise along the way, and perform only the steps your dog will tolerate. If necessary, you can work up to a full cleaning over time. The key is to keep the experience as positive as possible.

1. Place a cotton ball or piece of gauze in the outer ear canal

If you’ve ever used ear drops in your own ears, you know that liquid in your ear canal can be uncomfortable. It’s the same for dogs—but here’s a technique that can help.

Place a piece of cotton just at the entrance of the ear. The cotton should go no further than just inside the opening to the ear canal so that it stays in place without you holding it there, but is easy for you to remove when the cleaning is over.

2. Fill the ear canal with cleaning solution

Now that you've placed the cotton into your dog's ear this next step will be much more comfortable for your dog.

Place the tip of the cleaning container on top of the gauze, right next to the opening of the ear canal. Allow the cleaning solution to saturate the cotton and flow into the ear canal. You may hear a crackling or squishing sound as the cleaning solution works to remove the wax. Remember to keep giving your dog lots of treats.

Be sure to clean the tip of the bottle containing the ear-cleaning solution thoroughly after every use. Otherwise, bacteria, yeast, and other debris can accumulate on the tip and introduce infections the next time you clean.

3. Massage the ear canal

The ear-cleaning solution will begin to break down wax and debris on its own but to make sure the ear is totally clean, you should massage the ear canal. Spend about 30 seconds applying gentle pressure in a circular motion to the area where your dog’s ears attach to their head.

Start massaging while the gauze or cotton is still inside your dog’s ear, then remove the cotton and continue massaging.

4. Let your dog shake their head

It’s only natural for your dog to want to shake the fluid and leftover gunk out of their ears. Once you’re done massaging, go ahead and let them shake their head. Keep a towel nearby to protect yourself from any free-flying liquid.

5. Wipe away the rest of the debris

When your dog is done shaking, use cotton balls or dog ear wipes to wipe away any visible wax or debris.

6. Treat time!

Now that the hard part is over, reward your dog for being so patient with this uncomfortable process by giving them lots of high-value treats.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Concerned about the health of your dog's ears? Our Bartlett veterinarians can help. Contact Hillcrest Animal Hospital today to book an examination for your pup.

Deep Ear Cleaning for Dogs, Bartlett Veterinarians

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