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Deep Ear Cleaning for Dogs

Dogs love having their ears rubbed, but if their ears are abnormally sensitive, it could be a sign that they need to be cleaned. Here, our Vancouver vets share some tips on giving your dog a deep ear cleaning.

Signs Your Dog Needs an Ear Cleaning

If your dog's ears are in good condition, he or she will probably enjoy having them scratched. If they are tender from an infection, they will most likely pull away from you and refuse to be touched. As a result, gently massaging your dog's ears is an excellent way to check on their health. If your dog reacts negatively to being touched, it's time to look more closely and, most likely, clean his or her ears.

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 You Should Clean Your Dog’s Ears

This question does not have a simple answer. Different ear types make some dogs more susceptible to ear infections than others, necessitating more frequent cleaning.

Large floppy ears on dogs increase the likelihood that moisture or debris will become trapped inside the ear canal, which can cause more irritation and infections. Other breeds may need more frequent cleanings because they are more likely to have excessive ear hair, more ear wax produced, an underlying allergic disease, or very narrow ear canals. Dogs who don't have any of these conditions typically need cleanings every one to two months.

Some dogs' ears may never need to be cleaned. Introducing cleaner into the canal may cause more harm than good if the dog's ear is clean and healthy. Dog ears are a tiny ecosystem that should be left alone if there are no concerns.

What You Need to Clean Your Dog's Ears

If your dog's ears need 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)

Cleaning Your Dogs' Ears

When deciding when to clean your dog's ears, be sure to pick a time when they are calm, relaxed, and have used up the majority of their energy playing. To avoid your dog becoming uncomfortable or even afraid, start the process slowly and never force them to participate. This is especially true if they are having ear issues.

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.

Just at the ear's opening, place a piece of cotton. To ensure that it stays in place without your holding it there and is simple for you to remove once the cleaning is finished, the cotton should not extend further than just inside the opening to the ear canal.

2. Fill the ear canal with a 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.

On top of the gauze, close to the ear canal opening, place the cleaning solution's tip. Give the cotton time to absorb the cleaning solution before letting it enter the ear canal. As the cleaning agent dissolves the wax, you might hear a crackling or squishing sound. Do not forget to reward your dog frequently with treats.

After each use, thoroughly clean the tip of the ear-cleaning solution container. Otherwise, bacteria, yeast, and other debris can build up on the tip and infect you the next time you clean.

3. Massage the ear canal

You should massage the ear canal to ensure that it is completely clean. On its own, the ear-cleaning solution will begin to break down wax and debris. Spend about 30 seconds in a circular motion gently massaging the area where your dog's ears connect 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

Your dog will naturally want to shake the liquid and remaining gunk out of their ears. Let them shake their head after you're done massaging. To protect yourself from any flying liquid, keep a towel close by.

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.

If your dog is experiencing frequent ear infections, contact our Vancouver vets so we can help.

We Welcome New Patients

Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

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