Dog Ear Cleaning Solution & Tips

The best dog ear cleaning solution depends on how dirty your dog’s ears are, how often (and how well) you clean them and whether any other condition exists.  And the right remedy may or may not be a dog ear medication.

While our ear canals are horizontal, our dog’s are more “L-Shaped” which makes it easier to develop a dog ear problem.  A thorough dog ear wash goes hand in hand when following proper dog grooming instructions and should take place once a week. 

Proper trimming around the ear is also important to ensure good air circulation – especially for floppy-eared dogs like ours!

How to Properly Clean Your Dog's Ears

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If you use a professional groomer, part of their standard service is to trim, clean and deodorize your dog’s ears. Many groomers also offer ear cleaning as a stand-alone service. Make sure that your groomer only uses natural and organic products.

If you feel comfortable doing it yourself, here is the step by step process.

Let’s review what NOT to do:

  • Do not allow water to get into the ear canal if possible.  It can lead the formation of bacteria and fungus.
  • Do not use a syringe as you may damage your dog’s ear.  Leave this tool to the professionals.
  • Do not go deeper than ½ inch into the ear canal – unless you’re trained it’s not worth getting overly ambitious and accidentally hurting your dog.

Do It Yourself Dog Ear Cleaning Supplies*

  • Hemostat (special scissors) sterilized before and after each procedure.
  • Commercial ear powder
  • Commercial ear cleaning solution or homemade mixture (see below)
  • Cotton (sterile medical grade preferred).

*Do not use Q-Tips or alcohol as a dog ear medication.

When using dog ear medication or cleaning products, sterilize all of your tools before and after each session.

Give your dog’s ears a good “once over” to make sure there are no dog ear problems or infections.  If you see anything that looks out of the ordinary, take your dog to the vet.  If the only problem is a lot of oil, wax or debris, flush out the ear with almond oil as directed below before proceeding with the standard cleaning.

Assuming everything looks normal, make sure the hair inside the ears is trimmed to foster good ventilation.  Not all dogs have hair in their ears, but many do, and unventilated ears help create a haven for moisture, harmful bacteria and debris.  

Now it’s time to administer the dog ear cleaning solution:

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  1. Straighten the ear canal by gently pulling the tip of the ear flap upwards.
  1. Drip a dog ear cleaning solution (see below for recommendations) into your dog’s ear canal using a plastic or glass dropper.
  1. Gently massage the base of your dog’s ear with your thumb and forefinger for 30 seconds.  The ear canal will feel like a small hard tube between your fingers.  You will know that you’re doing it right if you hear a squishy sound.
  1. Tip your dog’s head to the side and let the dog ear cleaning solution drip out onto a towel.  If this is your first time, don’t be surprised if a lot of material comes out!
  1. Allow your dog to shake out any excess dog ear wash.
  1. Being careful not to insert anything deeper into the ear canal than ½ inch, remove any excess wax or particles with a soft cloth, tissue or specially made dog ear cleaning pad.
  1. Ventilate your dog’s ears by folding back their ears and allowing them to dry out for about five minutes.  
  1. Wrap things up by administering a dog ear drying powder.
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The Right Dog Ear Cleaning Solution for the Situation

If you can see a build-up of oil or wax inside the ear, try using an Almond Oil dog ear cleaning solution:

  1. Pour a small amount of almond oil into a cup or glass
  2. Immerse cup or glass (do not let water overflow into cup) in a sink or bowl full of hot water
  3. Straighten ear canal by gently lifting the tip of the ear flap upwards
  4. Slowly drop about ½ teaspoon of almond oil into your dog’s ear canal using a plastic or glass dropper
  5. Allow the oil to run down ear canal for 5 seconds
  6. Gently massage the ear canal with your thumb and forefinger as mentioned above.  Again, if you hear a squishy sound you know you’re doing it right.
  7. Use a soft cloth, tissue or special ear cleaning pad to remove the excess oil.
dog ear cleaning solution

For normal weekly cleaning (do not use on inflamed ears):

  1. Commercial Ear Cleaner – there are several good ones on the market, such as Organically Correct's Ear Wash for Dogs and Cats.
  1. Vinegar Rinse - Create a mixture of 1/3 apple organic cider vinegar (2% to 2.5% acetic acid) and 2/3 water.  Using a dropper, gently flush the ear canal with between 1 and 5 ml of the solutions.

The above is also good to use after swimming.

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