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How to clean a dog’s ears at home

If you have a dog with droopy ears, especially one that loves water, you’ve likely experienced ear swelling or infection. Eared dogs can also be infected with bacteria, yeast or ear mites.

The first step in dealing with an ear infection is to get a veterinary exam to determine the cause of the infection and get the right medication. But cleaning the ears will be part of the treatment plan and preventative care for dogs prone to recurring ear infections.

What can I use to clean my dog’s ears at home?

It doesn’t take much to clean your dog’s ears.

  • An ear cleaning solution that is safe for dogs
  • cotton balls
  • Additional. some gauze and/or cotton-tipped applicators
  • Optional: pre-made dog ear wipes

The ear cleaning solution is the most important point. These cleaners are safe even if your dog’s eardrum is ruptured and contain a drying agent so that your dog’s ears dry quickly after cleaning. You can purchase an ear cleaner at your vet’s office or any pet supply store.

A pinch of water and equal parts white or apple cider vinegar can work, but it’s not the best choice for long-term care. Unlike ear cleaning solution, this mixture does not dry as quickly. Constant moisture in your dog’s ears can promote more infections because bacteria thrive in a warm, moist environment.

Cotton balls and gauze are perfect for cleaning the ears. Cotton-tipped applicators can be used to remove from ear tips and chambers, but only use them where you can see. Reaching too deep can accidentally rupture your dog’s eardrum.

How to clean a dog’s ears

  1. Apply an ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball.
  2. Place the soaked cotton in your dog’s ear and press it around. Most dogs tolerate this better than spraying the cleaner directly into the ear.
  3. Gently wipe the ear with cotton or gauze, using a new cloth each time, until it is clean.

Note: If your dog’s ear begins to bleed, stop brushing. The tissue is extremely sensitive.

  1. Use a cotton-tipped applicator to carefully remove from the nooks and crannies of the ear that you can easily see. Do not go deep into the ear, as you may accidentally rupture the eardrum.
  2. Repeat with the other ear.

Follow your vet’s instructions on how often to clean the ears. In most cases, cleaning will be several times a week while treating the infection, then once a week or two weeks for long-term care, but this protocol can vary.

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