How Often Should You Clean Your Dogs Ears
Your veterinarian can help you decide how often your dogs ears should be cleaned. Some dogs that have healthy, self-regulating ears that dont require much cleaning. Others require more attention, like dogs that have longer hair in and around their ears.
Even still, cleaning dog ears too frequently can cause your dogs ears to become irritated and even lead to infection, according to VCA Hospitals.
Causes Of Ear Infections In Dogs
A variety of things can cause your dog to suffer from an ear infection. Some of the most common causes include:
- Excess water or liquid in the ear
- Excessive ear cleaning
- Skin problems
- Foreign objects
Ear mites are another common cause of ear infections, especially in puppies or dogs that spend a lot of time outside.
As the name implies, these tiny bugs can wreak havoc on your pups ear. Fortunately, certain flea and tick preventatives can help to keep ear mites at bay.
How To Clean Your Dogs Ears
Once youve been cleared to clean by your vet, its time to get to work on cleaning out those ears!
As with the cleaning solution recipe, consult your vet about the actual cleaning process. Check out the how-to video posted below, and make sure youre prepared with our step-by-step guide before you start:
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Get Into The Habit Of Checking Your Dogs Ears
Its important to regularly check your dogs ears, to make sure you catch any issues before they become serious.
Learn what your dogs ears look and smell like when theyre healthy .
Well-socialized dogs generally love having their ears stroked, but if your dog ever pulls away from your touch, their ears may be causing them pain. If you notice your dog pawing at their ear or shaking their head, this also indicates a potential problem.
Getting Help With Cleaning Your Dogs Ears
Labradors are generally healthy dogs, but their ears can be a problem area so it is important to stay on top of your dogs ear health with regular checks and cleaning when necessary.
If you have any doubts about how to care for your Labradors ears, or if your Labrador is showing any symptoms of infection or ear discomfort, then please contact your local vet for advice. Do not be tempted to leave it to see if it will get better on its own, as untreated ear infections can be both painful and serious, even leading to deafness.
Remember to ask for help from a friend or family member, and have a regular routine for caring for your dogs ears either at home, with your groomer or with your vet.
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Why Clean Your Dogs Ears
Dogs have curvy, twisty inner ears and this anatomy provides the ideal environment for bacteria, yeast, and parasites. The inner ears can also easily collect debris since it will have to travel through various curves to get out.
Regularly cleaning your dogs ears gives you the opportunity to check for debris and other issues. It also helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Cleaning your poochs ears is especially important if they have a great deal of inner-ear hair or a lot of earwax.
Cleaning their ears also provides the perfect opportunity to check for irritation or infection.
If you notice any issues with the ears, such as:
- Hair loss
- Bad smell or discharge
Take them to the vet before cleaning. Doing any cleaning at this point can cause further irritation and possibly make it harder for your vet to diagnose.
Also, if you see black or brown ear wax that looks like coffee grounds, your dog might have microscopic ear mites which also prompts a visit to the vet.
Is There Excess Hair Needs Removing
During your inspection you should check for excess hair.
Any matting, overgrown or heavy hair either around the ear opening or in the ear canal limits the flow of air into and around the ear, creating a stale environment for bacteria and yeast to grow in, as well as allowing wax and debris to collect.
All of these issues can lead to infection so you want to clear away excess hair. Note though as we previously stated, for hair internal to the canal, you must seek the advice of a vet before attempting removing it yourself. It may be OK to leave it and you do not want to do any damage.
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How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears
This article was co-authored by Ray Spragley, DVM. Dr. Ray Spragley is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and the Owner/Founder of Zen Dog Veterinary Care PLLC in New York. With experience in multiple institutions and private practices, Dr. Spragleys specializations and interests include non-surgical management of cranial cruciate ligament tears, Intervertebral Disk Disease, and pain management in osteoarthritis. Dr. Spragley holds a BS in Biology from SUNY Albany and has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is also a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist through the Canine Rehab Institute as well as a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through Chi University.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 16 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 945,490 times.
One very important way you can monitor your dog’s health is to examine its ears weekly. We may not think to do this on our own but is it especially important for dogs that have floppy ears or dogs with allergies. Many times, when inspecting the ears you will find that they need cleaning. Cleaning a dogs ears at home is fairly simple as long as the ears are not infected or damaged. Ensure proper ear care for your loyal companion by regularly inspecting and cleaning its ears, floppy or otherwise.
Dog Ear Care: How And When To Carefully Clean Your Dogs Ears
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Your dog isnt exactly a big fan of having their ears inspected and cleaned, so when doing so, do your best to work with your pooch to make the experience as positive as possible. Their ears are sensitive so regular and careful dog ear care will help to prevent and detect any ear problems. If not done properly, however, it may lead to ear problems and sensitivity.
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The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa’s online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website
Regular Puppy Ear Checks What To Look For
When you look inside your puppys ears, you are looking to check that they are healthy and free from problems.
Common ear problems that you may spot with a simple weekly inspection are
- A build up of dark wax
- Redness or soreness
- Smelly ears
Any of these may indicate that your puppy has a problem, such as an infection.
Healthy ears look pink not red or sore, and your puppys ears should not smell of anything.
the cotton wool pads you use for babies or make up are fine
If you can see redness or detect an unpleasant smell, or if your puppy is shaking his head or poking at his ears, then take him to your vet. Dont try and treat the problem yourself.
If all you can see is a little grubby ear wax, then you can give your puppys ears a gentle clean at home.
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How To Clean Your Dogs Ears At Home
Vinegars Effects On Ear Infections
Sometimes, bacteria, viruses, and fungi invade and reproduce inside a dogs ear canal causing an infection.
Ear infections are most common in dogs with floppy, hanging ears. Floppy, hanging ears create a damp, moist environment perfect for bacterial growth.
Vinegar treats dog ear infections in several ways:
- Antibiotic – Vinegar kills bacteria
- pH Restorative – Vinegar restores the ear canals proper pH balance.
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How Do You Know If Your Dog Has An Ear Infection
There are a few things to look out for that signal a possible ear infection:
- If your dog repeatedly scratches at or rubs their ear
- Any discharge from the ear
- Any growths or swelling in or around the ear
- Any smell coming from the ear
- Soreness or redness inside the ear
- Sensitivity to touch or pain around the ears
Infection is more of a risk among dogs who swim or bathe regularly, particularly for breeds with long and floppy ears. This makes a Labrador particularly susceptible so it is important to keep a close eye on their ears.
You can minimize the risk of infection by drying your pups ears thoroughly, putting cotton balls in the canals during bath time, or using an ear drying solution after swimming.
Even if you do these things, however, regularly cleaning your poochs ears should not be skipped because it lets you check for and prevent infections.
What About Plucking Your Dogs Ear Hair
If your dog has a lot of hair growing in the ear canal, it might be beneficial to pluck it out prior to cleaning the ear. If youre nervous about doing this, ask your vet, vet technician or groomer to show you how to do it. Some people use their fingers to pluck small amounts of hair out, working a little bit at a time. Other people prefer to use hemostats .
I quite often get asked whether plucking the ears is painful, Dr. Grognet says Most dogs really dont seem to notice it very much. Taking the hair out normally isnt a very sore process at all.
If your dogs ears seem red and irritated after plucking out the hair, try waiting a day or two before cleaning your dogs ears to give the skin time to calm down so the cleaner doesnt sting or cause further irritation.
Tell us: Do you clean your dogs ears at home? How often do you clean your dogs ears? Any tips to add on cleaning your dogs ears?
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Dog Breeds With Ears That May Need Cleaning
Typical breeds that will need some extra attention paid to their ears are those with long drooping floppy ears. Such as Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, and Bassett Hounds.
But dogs with shorter ears that are covered by flaps may need cleaning too.
Breeds such as Labradors and other Retriever breeds, Pointers and Setters, and many of our Hounds, will benefit from regular ear checks, and may benefit from a gentle once weekly natural clean as described below.
Maybe Train Your Dog To Accept Handling
The majority of dogs will not enjoy having their ears touched, so you have to work with them to get used to having their ears handled from a young age if you can.
This can be as simple or difficult as you make it, but the main idea is to start by gently touching your pet while still a puppy and slowly get them used to this before moving onto cleaning the ears.
For more information about this process, you can look at this article on teaching your pup to accept handling.
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When To Clean Your Puppys Ears
You can help all of these types of dogs to have healthier ears by regularly cleaning them. How often you need to do this will depend on what you find when you examine your dogs ears
Check inside the flaps each time you groom your dog and at least once a week. Well explain what the ear should look like inside below.
How To Clean Dogs Ears Summary
Labradors are prone to poor ear health so vigilance is very important. Check your dogs ears frequently, at least once a week. You can clean your dogs ears at home with a cotton swab and warm water solution. Never wipe into the ear canal. Clean only the easy to reach areas.
Clean from the inside of the ear towards the outside of the ear flap. Use only specially formulated canine ear cleaning solution for inner ear cleaning. Learn the difference between your dogs clean ears, dirty ears and unhealthy ears. If you notice any signs of poor ear health do not try to treat at home. Contact your vet.
It is best to get puppies accustomed to having their ears handled from early on. Be patient with training an older dog who is afraid of the ear cleaning process. Create and maintain an ear grooming schedule to maintain ear health
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Do All Dogs Need To Have Their Ears Cleaned
No. While it is important to clean your dogs ears when needed, over-cleaning may cause irritation in the ear canal and this can lead to infection. Some dogs that have healthy, clean ears may never need to have their ears cleaned.
However, it is recommended to clean your dogs ears if you notice discharge or an odor when examining the ear. Your veterinarian can help you decide how often your dogs ears should be cleaned.
If your dogs ears are red, inflamed, and painful, consult with your veterinarian prior to cleaning. Your dog may have an ear infection or a ruptured ear drum.
Signs Your Dog Has An Ear Infection
If your dog has an infection, theyll have ears which are sensitive to the touch and theyll be red and inflamed. They may also shake their head regularly or try and scratch their ears as itll feel incredibly irritating for them.
You may notice discharge coming from the ear too which could be foul smelling or an unusual colour.
Ear mites can also be the cause of ear infections in your dog. If mites are present, they may have coffee ground looking clumps, thick black or red/brown crusts and scratches and cuts in and around their ears.
If you think your dog has an infection, be sure to take them to the vet immediately and theyll be able to prescribe antibiotics and ear drops to clear up any bacterial or yeast infections. Additionally, if the infection is due to a parasite, they will be able to give you appropriate medication to kill them.
So now you know how to clean a dogs ears! Be sure to check their ears regularly and always be on the lookout for anything unusual.
Next, find out more about some of the most common dog skin problems and the signs to watch out for.
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