How to clean a dog’s ears

While often overlooked, a dog’s ears are very sensitive and need special care. This is true of all dogs, but especially those with floppy ears. Fortunately, most people can clean their dog’s ears right at home so long as the ears are in overall good condition. Like any form of canine health care, ear cleaning requires special handling and a gentle touch. Here’s how to clean a dog’s ears at home safely.

A guide on how to clean a dog's ears at home

How to clean a dog’s ears at home

First, make sure that the dog’s ears are healthy. Look for any injuries, parasites, or rashes and make sure there’s no fluid draining from the ear. If the dog’s ear is diseased or especially filthy, do not clean it yourself – that could make the problem worse. Instead, contact your veterinarian as soon as you can. Putting off ear care can lead to larger health problems down the road, so make it a priority if your dog’s ears need special attention.

If the dog’s ears look healthy, then you can proceed with cleaning. A commercial cleaning solution can be used, or you can make your own by mixing one part vinegar or hydrogen peroxide with one part water.

Start by soothing and relaxing your dog so he doesn’t startle and injure himself while you are cleaning. It will also teach him not to be afraid of the times that you care for him like this, which will be helpful for the future.

Once he is relaxed, take a cotton ball or some gauze, dip it in the cleaning solution, and gently clean the inside of the dog’s ear flap. Cotton swabs are not recommended because it’s easy to accidentally push them in deeper into the dog’s ear canal than is safe.

If the dog’s ears are very dirty, you may need to use multiple cotton balls or gauze pads.

Just take as long as is needed to clear out all the dirt. Remember: do not press deep inside the dog’s ear canal. This could injure his eardrum or cause other damage.

As you work on cleaning, your dog may want to shake his head a few times as a reflex to clear out the liquid he feels in his ears. This is normal, so just let him do it so he can feel comfortable.

Once you’re all finished with cleaning, be sure to praise your dog and give him a treat.

You can clean your dog’s ears about once a week. Doing so more often can upset the natural bacterial balance and lead to infections.


Cleaning your dog’s ears is only one small part of a grooming regimen that will help keep your dog happy and healthy.

Remember to also take him to the veterinarian for regular checkups as well as to a trusted groomer so he can get a full body clean.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to keep tabs on your dog’s health on your own by checking him over and inspecting him regularly. All you need is a little love and care and your dog will reward you with loyal companionship for years to come.

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