Dog Ear Cleaning

" Dog ear cleaning is vital component of grooming. If if not carried out it can lead to several dog ear problems including infections, allergies and deafness in chronic cases. The dog ear has various parts, external and internal. Most dog owners do not clean canine ears frequently, because of the delicate nature of the organ and the needed cooperation of the pet. Cleaning dog ears can be done in two main parts, i.e. external cleaning and internal or inside cleaning of the ear. It is recommended that owners practice cleaning the external ear only,leaving the internal ear to a professional groomer. Clean dog ears can be accomplished with specific solutions. A dog ear cleaner can be prepared at home, however available commercial ear cleaners are preferred as the ingredients are included in the ratio needed. Canine ear cleaning should be done at least once in a week. "

Anatomy of a Dog Ear:

The dog ear is formed by three different parts, external, middle and internal ear. The external ear consists of the ear flap which is also called the pinna. The middle ear consists of a long ear canal which has round and complicated turns in it; one of them almost forms a 90 Degree angle. The external and middle ear is separated by three different tympanic membranes; these tympanic membranes are also called ear drums. This part of the ear also includes some bony structures (ossicles), an air filled chamber (Bulla), a mucosal lining and some muscles which respond to very loud voices. The internal ear is housed deeper and lies in what is called the petrosol temporal bone. It mostly contains the neurological components which connect the ear to the cerebellum and auditory centers in the hind brain.

Why is Dog Ear Cleaning is Important?

The dog ear is an optimum environment for different bacteria, fungus, allergens and parasites to cause infections. Normally, waxy substances are secreted from the ear in a very low quantity. If the dog ear is not cleaned on a regular basis, the waxy material can become an optimum medium for fungal and bacterial growth. Several allergies like flea bite allergy, atopy and food allergy usually initiates from a dog’s ear. It is because of the dark, moisturized and waxy environment of the ear that dust and other allergen accumulate rapidly.

Also, regular dog ear cleaning can help in observing the physiology or normal functioning of ear. Any abnormality or problem can be addressed earlier if timely observation is done by the owner or groomer.

Requirements of Dog Ear Cleaning:

Even though dog ear cleaning is a simple procedure, if it is mishandled or some irrelevant tools are used, then complications from injuries and/or infections can occur. So it is highly recommended that owners limit themselves to certain tools for cleaning dog ears at home.

Home Dog Ear Cleaning Tools:

Even though Q–Tips can be used at home, they are not recommended.

Dog Ear Cleaning Solutions:

Different antiseptic solutions and preparations can be used for this purpose. Some common types can be prepared at home, however problems related to the vitality of components and the ratio of different ingredients can cause complications. Some common antiseptics available at home are usually vinegar, rubbing alcohol, Hydrogen per Oxide (3%). Normal saline or boiled water can be used for dilution of these antiseptics. It is recommended that dog owners should prefer ready made dog ear cleansing solutions. These solutions are not only safe to use but also contain some additional ingredients which keep dog ears healthy.

Procedure for Dog Ear Cleaning:

Dogs do not like people to work with their ears, so proper restraining and offering dog treats can help in overcoming this problem. Aggressive dogs should be carefully restrained by a helper. Apply restraining strips at the mouth to prevent biting.

Cleaning Dog Ears Steps

  1. Soak the cotton balls or swab in cleansing solution.
  2. Pull the pinna or flap outward.
  3. With care put the swab or ball in the ear and apply pressure at the base of the ear. Avoid moving cotton balls deeper in ear.

    dog ear cleaning
    PIcutre Cleaning Dog Ear
    Cotton can be Used to Remove Discharge
    from the Inner Side of the Ear Flap
    (source: Washington State University)
  4. Q – Tips or a finger can be used to clean the outer ear completely and then remove the swab from ear.
  5. Repeat this procedure at least 3x and try to completely dry the cleansing solution.
  6. Allow the dog to shake itself to dry the ear as it will help in preventing moisturizing of the ear media.

Non friendly dogs can be restrained by lying them down on a table and controlling the neck and fore limbs with your arm and hand. Cleaning can be done with the other hand.

Precautions of Dog Ear Cleaning:

  • Do not put cleansing solution directly into the ear, as it may cause damage to the ear drums
  • Do not try to clean the inner layers of the ears on your own; as it can cause irreparable damage to the ear drums which can lead to partial or complete deafness
  • If you find any abnormality in the ear while cleaning, do not try to treat it on your own. Consult a veterinarian for a complete diagnosis and treatment
  • Inner parts of the ears should be cleaned by a professional groomer only. Owners must only clean external parts of the ear
  • Do not push cotton swabs/balls deeper into the ear; these may get stuck in ear the canal. If possible avoid Q – Tips.

Keeping Dog Ears Healthy

In the case of dog ear problems, a homeopathic remedy can be a helpful supportive remedy. The biggest difference between a dog ear and a human ear is the wide variation in shape of the outer ear. Certain shapes such as long pendulous ears can make some breeds more susceptible to ear problems that others.

If you dog has frequent ear problems such as itch, irritation and infection, then it might be worth trying a natural ear drop like Ear Dr. It contains ingredients selected to maintain normal levels of flora in the ear which in turn should cut down on ear problems. Of course consult with your veterinarian, particularly in cases where you see ear discharge or smell an unusual odor.


Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co. 2008)

Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Clinician Manual (Royal Publishers UK. 1994)

Dog Health Search

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