How Do I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

How Do I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

Repeated head shaking. Foul-smelling, waxy build-up. Red, painfully inflamed ears. What do all these things have in common? All are symptoms of otitis externa, or what is commonly referred to as ear infections. If you have ever groaned inwardly and felt dismay the moment your dog starts shaking his head or rubbing his ears along the nearest available surface, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, too many pet parents are more than familiar with this recurring medical problem. Often, it is accompanied by an offensive odor and one can only imagine how overwhelming the smell is to the suffering pup!

Canine ear infections result from an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the ear canal, causing redness, irritation and a heavy accumulation of wax. Likely triggers of these maladies are skin reactions to inhaled allergens – like pollen, mold or dust mites – or food allergies and sensitivities. Be aware that both large ears and swimming predispose dogs to ear infections.

Humans tend to develop ear infections as a result of viral infections, typically in infancy or early youth. As youngsters, our Eustachian tubes are very small. Respiratory congestion can lead to blockage of these canals, resulting in otitis media (a middle ear infection). Because the infection is internal, they frequently require oral antibiotics. In contrast, pets usually develop ear infections as adults, and the infection is almost always localized in the external portion of the ear. In most cases, the application of prescription drops or ointments directly into the ear canal usually resolves the illness. If you suspect your companion animal may be suffering from an ear infection, please seek veterinarian assistance for diagnosis and treatment. If necessary, your vet may prescribe a topical medicine and advise routine cleaning.

In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah reveals the steps to safe and effective ear cleaning to promote overall ear health.

Comments (12) -

  • Gretchen Morgan

    9/21/2010 7:39:33 PM |

    Dr. Sarah's video is excellent.    

  • Terry hastings

    9/22/2010 6:45:18 AM |

    Thank you, Dr. Sarah, I will now clean my dogs ears, instead of taking her to the groomer. The video was very helpful. Terry

  • Barbara ODay

    9/23/2010 8:06:13 AM |

    Thank you for posting the video...  I learned a lot from it and will now start cleaning both of my dogs ears more often!!

  • Katherine Sturdy

    9/23/2010 10:18:23 AM |

    Thank you, Dr.Sarah,Your video was very helpful. I now feel more confident when cleaning my dogs ears.@ Barbara ODay:

  • Lori

    9/24/2010 12:43:41 PM |

    what if your dog won't let you clean their ears? I usually have to do all grooming & shots under sedation...

  • Rich and Lisa Jelinek

    9/24/2010 12:55:53 PM |

    Excellent video! Life's Abundance has a wonderful ear cleaner that we have been using for almost 7 years. Our dogs see the ear cleaner and a bag of Tasty Rewards and just sit and wait - 1. because the ear cleaner does not sting and 2. because they love Tasty Rewards Smile

  • Janet

    10/1/2010 4:35:19 PM |

    Easy and quick to do with Life's Abundance ear cleaner!  The best thing is no alcohol, so our dogs don't mind it at all, and they swim almost every day.
    Janet Roberts

  • Diane

    10/8/2010 12:14:26 PM |

    Very informative video! I now know how to safely and effectively clean my Chihuahua's ears. It shouldn't be a problem getting her to hold still because she loves it when I scratch her ears.


  • Barbara Bowman

    11/10/2010 4:52:04 AM |

    Thank you ... great instructional video.


  • Donnetta

    2/26/2011 6:16:39 AM |

    The video was great for cleaning. I have toy poodles and they have lots of hair in their ears.  I would like more info on how/if to remove this hair appropriately.

  • Broekemeier

    12/5/2013 9:51:51 PM |

    Hey there! I simply want to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great information. I'll be returning to your site for more soon.

  • Gaby Brown

    12/10/2018 2:29:21 PM |

    my dogs ear has some smelly stuff in it, and she is hurting it more by scratching, i think i gat lots of that brown stuff out of there. but is there something else i can do , like benadryl to help with a infection???? i know i have to keep cleaning it and i will.
    please let me know

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