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Dog Ear Care: Deep Cleaning

Does your dog normally love having their ears rubbed but now suddenly pulling away any time you try to do so? They might just need their ears cleaned. Here, our Turlock vets talk about ear cleaning and offer some advice on how to deep clean your dog's ears.

When is deep ear cleaning needed for dogs?

If your dog's ears are healthy, they will likely enjoy having their ears rubbed. If they’re tender from an infection they will probably pull away from you and won't want to have them touched. So just gently massaging your dog’s ears is a great first step toward checking their condition. If you notice that your dog is sensitive about having their ears touched, it’s time to take a closer look and likely time to clean them.

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

When should you clean your dog's ears?

There is no simple answer to this question. Different ear types make certain dogs more susceptible to ear infections than others and therefore require more frequent cleaning. 

Dogs with large floppy ears are more likely to get moisture or debris trapped in their ears which can lead to more irritation and infections. Other breeds are prone to excessive hair in their ear canals, increased ear wax production, underlying allergic disease, and/or very narrow ear canals—all of which can require more frequent cleanings. Dogs without any of these issues can usually get by with a cleaning every one to two months.

Some dogs may never need to have their ears cleaned. In fact, if the dog’s ear is clean and healthy, introducing cleaner into the canal could actually cause more harm than good. Dog ears are a tiny ecosystem, and if there are no concerns, it's best to leave it alone.

Supplies For Cleaning Your Dogs Ears

If your dog's ears are in need of. 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)

Dog Deep Ear Cleaning Basics

When you are deciding on a time to clean your dog's ears, make sure to choose a time when they are calm, relaxed, and have expended most of their energy through play. Be sure to take your time and stop if your dog becomes stressed out. don't force them to have their ears cleaned. If it doesn't work at home you can always contact your vet or a groomer for help.

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 cotton or gauze on the outside of the ear canal

Putting liquid into the ears can be an uncomfortable feeling. Luckily, we have a technique that can help make it feel just a little less awkward.

Place a piece of cotton just at the entrance of the ear. The cotton should go no further than just inside the opening to the ear canal so that it stays in place without you holding it there, but is easy for you to remove when the cleaning is over.

2. Fill the ear canal with the ear cleaning liquid

Now that you've placed the cotton into your dog's ear this next step will be much more comfortable for your dog.

Place the tip of the cleaning container on top of the gauze, right next to the opening of the ear canal. Allow the cleaning solution to saturate the cotton and flow into the ear canal. You may hear a crackling or squishing sound as the cleaning solution works to remove the wax. Remember to keep giving your dog lots of treats.

Be sure to clean the tip of the ear cleaning solution container thoroughly after every use. Otherwise, bacteria, yeast, and other debris can accumulate on the tip and introduce infections the next time you clean.

3. Massage the cleaning solution into the ear canal

The ear cleaning solution will begin to break down wax and debris on its own but to make sure the ear is totally clean, you should massage the ear canal. Spend about 30 seconds applying gentle pressure in a circular motion to the area where your dog’s ears attach 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. Give your dog a moment to shake their head around

It’s only natural for your dog to want to shake the fluid and leftover gunk out of their ears. Once you’re done massaging, go ahead and let them shake their head. Keep a towel nearby to protect yourself from any free-flying liquid.

5. Wipe away any debris that comes out of the ear

When your dog is done shaking, use cotton balls or dog ear wipes to wipe away any visible wax or debris.

6. Give your furry friend some good cuddles and a treat!

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.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog seems to always have dirty ears, even with cleaning, contact our Turlock vets today for professional advice.

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Community Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Turlock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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